HOUSTON - A day after a partial construction collapse killed three workers in Houston’s CityCentre area, Houston firefighters were preparing to remove fifteen flights of concrete and rebar stairs in order to reach and recover the bodies.
“They’ve cut a hole at the roof, and they will be removing those through a crane system,” said Asst. Fire Chief Ruy Lozano with the Houston Fire Dept. Lozano told Fox 26 firefighters are waiting on a rig specialist before they begin removing portions of the staircase, working from the roof down.
The scene of the collapse is the future home of the Marathon Oil headquarters on Town & Country Boulevard in Houston’s CityCentre.
Meanwhile, the three contract workers killed in the staircase collapse are still buried in the rubble on the ground floor.
“We’re unable to start any true body recovery because the area localized to that collapsed area is still very unstable,” said Lozano.
“Come on, man, these people’s lives matter,” said David Armas who lives in the neighborhood. “Get them out.”
Armas was one of the people alarmed to learn the bodies were still inside a day after the accident. “They have people outside working like it’s no big deal,” said Armas. “I mean that’s what’s really more disturbing than anything to me. They have people actually on the job site working, and all they did was cover it to make it seem like nothing happened.”
The identities of the three men killed have not been released, although a friend of one of the victims told Fox 26 he was a welder and that he grew up with him in Honduras.
“I’m sad, you know, it’s my good friend,” said Miguel Ramirez.
Firefighters explained why they can’t reach the bodies yet:
“I want you to think about it like sideways Vs or a bunch of Zs,” said Lozano. “At the time of the collapse, those Zs pancaked down flat, causing the collapse, but some of those members are still in place, but they’re not secure. So our fear is a secondary collapse of some of those stair members to fall onto the debris pile that’s already at the ground floor.”
The men who were killed were subcontractors under Harvey Builders. They worked for East Texas Precast, according to the project’s development manager Hines.
OSHA’s spokesperson told FOX 26 the federal agency is investigating what led to the deadly collapse.