A hole was visible in the roof of a Worcester, Massachusetts, apartment building that was evacuated Friday because of the partial roof collapse. There also appeared to be damage to the façade of the building on the side of the apartment with the hole in the roof.
No one was injured in the incident on Mill Street, across from Coes Reservoir, according to the Worcester Fire Department. The roof collapse affected both the building's third floor and its second.
Firefighters received a call from the alarm company around 10:21 a.m. that fire alarms were going off in the building. A few minutes later, they got a call from a worker who said the roof had partially collapsed. Some 40 firefighters rushed in to get everyone out, and the 32-unit building, fully occupied when the collapse happened, was safely evacuated.
"And they went through the entire building on the inside or via windows and breaking windows to try and get residents," Deputy Fire Chief Adam Roche said.
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Work was underway at the time of the incident, and a preliminary investigation found that the collapse may have been caused by building materials that were on the roof, officials said. Work materials were seen on the roof and around the building after the collapse.
The deputy fire chief says one of the pallets of building material dropped through the collapsed part of the roof, dropping floor by floor.
Jacob Elbirt, who lives on the first floor, right under the collapsed part of the roof, says he heard water dripping in his kitchen Friday morning.
"And when I went to check it out and the entire ceiling actually exploded, erupted and water pouring out," Elbirt said, noting he grabbed his cat and left. "I presume the rest of the falling happened after I had already gotten out. When I left the ceiling was wide open, water and dirt gushing out of it."
Fellow resident Rachel Storey got a rude awakening, literally, when the ceiling in her top floor apartment collapsed. When she opened the door she could see her apartment and down into the apartment below.
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"It was like a sink hole. I had to walk on the outskirts of the walls holding onto the walls so I wouldn't fall through," an emotional Storey recalled, adding that she saw the sky when she looked up.
The city's building commissioner and building inspectors are investigating what happened, and a structural engineering team will assess whether it's safe for residents to return inside to collect their things. There was no immediate word on when that inspection is expected to take place. In the meantime, all of the building's residents have been accounted for and have been given a place to stay Friday night.