Heavy Rain May Have Caused Williamsburg Building Collapse

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A three-story building at 37 Conselyea St. in Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn, collapsed Monday afternoon, injuring four workers. Photo by Alyson Martin/The Brooklyn Ink

A three-story building at 37 Conselyea St. in Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn, collapsed Monday afternoon, injuring four workers. Photo by Alyson Martin/The Brooklyn Ink

by Nushin Rashidian and Matthew Huisman

Alyson Martin contributed reporting to this story.

At 11 am on Monday, Ken Corey noticed a vertical crack running down the side of a brick building undergoing renovation at 34 Conselyea St. in Williamsburg. The crack looked noticeably wider than before, and had grown from one to three inches. He said to his friends, “That building is coming down.”

He was right, and a little over one hour later, the building collapsed. Police and firefighters arrived in minutes.

“You could see it from the top of the building down,” Corey said referring to the vertical crack. “With all the rain it must have just softened up the ground and shifted the foundation.”

Corey, who owns the apartment building across the street, was retrieving a piece of paper from his car when he heard a “big thud.” Brick and mortar came crashing down on four men working on the building, trapping one man underneath the rubble. “As I looked up it was just a pool of smoke. I said ‘My God, you can imagine what 9/11 was like.’”

Ken Corey, owner of an apartment building at 37 Conselyea St. in Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn, looks across at a building that collapsed Monday afternoon and injured four workers. Corey said he previously noticed a vertical crack in the brick building which had grown from about one inch to three inches when he saw it at 11 a.m. Monday, about two hours before the collapse. Photo by Alyson Martin/The Brooklyn Ink

Ken Corey, owner of an apartment building at 37 Conselyea St. in Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn, looks across at a building that collapsed Monday afternoon and injured four workers. Corey said he previously noticed a vertical crack in the brick building which had grown from about one inch to three inches when he saw it at 11 a.m. Monday, about two hours before the collapse. Photo by Alyson Martin/The Brooklyn Ink

Anna Ambrosino, who has lived across from the renovation site for 60 years, was sitting on a chair in her living room facing a street level window and reading the National Enquirer when she heard a “boom!”

“I happened to look up and there it came,” she said. “Oh my God, the building collapsed. There was a fog and you couldn’t see across the street.”

The dust settled in minutes, and Ambrosino was scared because she thought that many people were inside the building when it fell.

“When you see something coming down, all you think is: fatality,” she said.

Anna Ambrosino looks out from her front door at a three-story building that collapsed on Conselyea Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at about 1 p.m. Monday afternoon. Ambrosino said she looked up from reading the National Enquirer to see the structure falling. Photo by Alyson Martin/The Brooklyn Ink

Anna Ambrosino looks out from her front door at a three-story building that collapsed on Conselyea Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at about 1 p.m. Monday afternoon. Ambrosino said she looked up from reading the National Enquirer to see the structure falling. Photo by Nushin Rashidian/The Brooklyn Ink

The building that collapsed was to the right of a building under renovation and to the left of a construction site with a deep excavation hole.The building was more than 100 years old and has been in owner Lucille Milo Maundrell’s family for more than 60 years. Now all that remains are two windows and several feet of the front façade.

Jeff Wilser, 33, was working from home down the block on Conselyea Street when he heard a loud boom and saw smoke rise from the building site.

“I went out here and a few of us saw that there was someone trapped under the rubble,” Wilser said. “The one guy was semi-vertical and literally up to his neck in brick. So we started moving debris and scraping off bricks.”

Wilser worked diligently, brick by brick, to free the man until firefighters arrived and took over the rescue. He watched for the next 20 minutes as firefighters freed the trapped man and carried him on a stretcher to an ambulance. According to officials, the cause of the collapse is still under investigation.

A Google Street View of the building prior to its collapse (The Brooklyn Ink in no way endorses Dick Chicken)

A Google Street View of the building prior to its collapse (The Brooklyn Ink in no way endorses Dick Chicken)

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3 Responses to “Heavy Rain May Have Caused Williamsburg Building Collapse”

  1. nationalenquirer
    March 30, 2010 at 3:30 PM #

    Enquirer with an “E” not an “I”

  2. Lenore Cho
    March 30, 2010 at 4:18 PM #

    Thanks for the catch!

  3. empresa de transporte
    April 6, 2010 at 9:16 AM #

    good article, i will add my feeds.

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