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Miami construction crane collapses in Hurricane Irma winds

Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban said the weather remains too dangerous to send crews out, but his team is contacting surrounding buildings

By David Smiley, Joey Flechas and Nicholas Nehamas
Miami Herald

MIAMI — The boom of a tower crane at an under-construction condo building in downtown Miami bent and collapsed in Irma’s heavy winds around 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

Two Miami firefighters looking east watched the boom at the Vice Building at 300 Biscayne Blvd. snap, sending bricks toppling to the ground. The boom is still connected to the crane by a cable, hanging off the building’s western side.

Miami’s fire chief, city manager, mayor and deputy building director rushed up to the fourth floor of the city’s police college, which houses Miami’s emergency operations center, after the accident.

At one point, cellphone video appeared to show the ball that balances the weight of the anchor on the crane was swinging and slamming into the side of the building, although Deputy Building Director Maurice Pons couldn’t confirm that was the case.

“Tomorrow we’ll assess the damage and try to get the engineering part of it corrected,” he said. “The general contractor has been contacted and he is setting up a team of wreckers to secure the tower.”

The general contractor is Moriarty, Pons said.

Kevin Maloney, founder of Vice’s New York-based developer, Property Markets Group, said his firm was working to secure the site, not far from Miami’s iconic Freedom Tower.

“We’re trying to find out what its potential path downward is and how to secure it,” Maloney said by phone. The tower is more than 25 stories high.

Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban said the weather remains too dangerous to send crews out, but his department is contacting management of surrounding buildings to make sure any surrounding properties are aware of the situation.

“The weather has deteriorated to the point where we’re not comfortable sending anybody out to even evaluate the situation. So our only concern right now is the protection of life, not necessarily property,” he said. “We’re going to take a look at all the exposures or buildings in close proximity. We’re going to contact those buildings to make them aware of what occurred. We’re going to not evacuate them move them but we’re going to move them to a safer location in the building in the event that they have a building whose face is exposed to the potential danger.”

Copyright 2017 Miami Herald