The 15-story building that was under construction, is located in the 990 block of Town and Country Boulevard, West Houston. It partially collapsed on October 5, 2020, at around 1:30 pm local time. 240 construction workers were present at the time of the incident.
According to the Fire Department of Houston, the failure is associated with a stairwell collapse that occurred within 13 floors of the structure. In particular, the stair shaft failure initiated on the 13th or the 14th floor and persisted till the 1st floor of the building. The debris reached the ground floor. The stairwell was also under construction at the time.
Unfortunately, three workers are confirmed dead. Their names were not released. One more was hospitalized with severe injuries and his current condition is stable. The other laborers that were at the site during the collapse are safe. “Out of nowhere, I hear a loud banging sound. It sounded like a building was collapsing. All you see is a bunch of smoke,” Chris Mercado, one of the construction workers, said.
The causes of the collapse have not been identified yet and an investigation has been launched. The police and crime detectives are also assessing the conditions under which the failure occurred as the protocols suggest in every fatal industrial accident.
Experts are not warned about the integrity of the building but they are concerned about the stability of the remaining stairwell. A subsequent collapse may be imminent, therefore, the Fire Department did not allow anyone to enter the structure. "It is far too early to determine what's the structural cause. But I can tell you anytime there's a primary collapse, our biggest concern is a second collapse. That's why we're not permitting any other rescuers until we can confirm the stability of the structure," Assistant Fire Chief Ruy Lozano, stated.
The building had undergone inspection some days before the incident but engineers did not find any structural faults. “As far as our structural team was concerned, Harvey Builders (the company in charge of the construction) was doing everything they were supposed to,” Alanna Reed, a spokeswoman for Houston Public Works, stated.
The current works include the utilization of a crane to remove the debris. The crane will remove the collapsed parts through cavities from the roof of the building.
The structure is part of a larger project for the future headquarters of Marathon Oil, a U.S. oil and natural gas exploration and production company, in Houston. The facility was planned to be completed by 2021.