Construction and city workers survey the damage Tuesday morning after the rear wall of 421 Main St. collapsed yesterday evening. The collapse caused a gas leak which was repaired an hour after the incident. Photo by: Zach Odom/Dispatch Staff
August 5, 2014 10:32:22 AM
Faulty construction work may be to blame for the collapse of the back wall of a downtown Columbus building Tuesday afternoon, officials say.
The incident, which occurred just before 5 p.m., injured the building's owner and caused a gas leak. Atmos Energy workers repaired the gas leak roughly an hour later. Two downtown buildings, however, were still without power this morning because of the collapse.
When the rear wall of Ann Davis Real Estate Group at 421 Main St. collapsed, owner Ann Davis was inside. She suffered a broken arm and several broken ribs, according to city building inspector Kenny Wiegel.
Construction workers had been working on the brick wall prior to its collapse, Wiegel said. An hour after they left, the wall collapsed.
The workers did not have a permit and Wiegel's office was not aware of any construction being done to the wall. Davis may face a fine for allowing the work without a proper permit, Wiegel said.
"It's potentially pretty dangerous," he said, referring to adjacent buildings.
Wiegel was downtown this morning accessing the situation.
When the wall collapsed, it pulled out several electrical meters and created a gas leak. Atmos Energy responded to the scene, as well as multiple emergency personnel. Columbus Fire and Rescue secured the scene for more than an hour. This morning, barricades blocked the front door to the building.
The building was formerly House of Tux. That business sold the building to Davis "as is," Wiegel said. Prior to the sale, House of Tux owners had the wall inspected by a structural engineer. The rear wall had separated from the building and needed to be rebuilt from the foundation up, according to Wiegel.
Wiegel said he had spoken to Davis about the issue, and she had spoken to multiple structural engineers who recommended that the wall be rebuilt.
"Why that advice wasn't taken, I'm uncertain," Wiegel said.
If a proper permit had been obtained, Wiegel believes the incident could have been avoided.
"Had the proper permit been applied for, at that point, my advice to the contractor would have been they would have had no choice but to employ a structural engineer from the beginning and rebuild from the foundation up," he said. "All of this could have been avoided."
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
1. Cattleman's: Open for business COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. Columbus remembers Jimmy Garton, a man of many titles COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Demonstration school seeks statewide impact STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
5. Romney's MSU visit at full capacity STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY