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N.J. FFs evacuate tenants after apartment wall, floor collapse

A collapse at a Hawthorne apartment building fell on boilers and compromised utilities

By Joseph Wilkinson
New York Daily News

HAWTHORNE, N.J. — The basement of an apartment building in Hawthorne, N.J., reportedly collapsed on Sunday, forcing several residents out of their homes.

Nine people were evacuated from the two-story building at Hawthorne Garden Apartments, according to the Bergen Record. Though 12 units were compromised, no one was seriously injured.

Hawthorne Fire Chief Joseph Speranza told the Record the collapse was likely caused by heavily saturated ground.

“They’re going to need an engineer to come and look at it. There’s a good chance they will lose part of the building, or at least the four units involved,” he was quoted as saying. “The ground is just so saturated. It’s not going to get better; it’s going to continue to fail.”

Initially, only the four heavily affected units were evacuated, WABC reported. However, authorities found a stress crack in another section of the building and evacuated the entire structure.

“When the building fell, it fell on nine boilers,” Speranza told News 12. “The boilers are pretty much destroyed. Gas leaks have been secured. Water has been secured and electric has been secured.”

The evacuated residents were taken to Hawthorne Ambulance Corps Building, the Record reported. Authorities did not say where they would spend the night. The Red Cross told WCBS it was helping 10 families find a place to stay.

“We anticipate this section of the building will fall,” the fire chief told News 12.

There have now been two structural collapses in Hawthorne in the past six months. In September, a 50 to 60-foot section of a brick wall at Hawthorne High School collapsed, dumping debris on cars parked beneath it. No one was injured in that collapse, either.

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