14 Injured in Anaheim School Roof Collapse

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Classes at the Regional Occupation Program school site in Anaheim Tuesday were canceled through the end of winter break on Jan. 5 after heavy rain and a malfunctioning drain caused a portion of a roof to collapse in one of the classrooms, injuring 14 people and leaving the building red-tagged.

The emergency at the North ROP Career and Technical Institute of Orange County at 1617 E. Ball Road was reported about 9:15 a.m. Monday, said Maria Sabol of the Anaheim Fire Department.

A main drain failed above a classroom, causing water to collect and eventually trigger a roof cave-in. The collapse made a loud, booming earthquake sound, causing some students to duck under the desk while others ran out screaming as water gushed like a river between three- to six-inches deep down the hallway, students told the Orange County Register.

"The ceiling began to buckle," Archie Bell, a 45-year-old medical-assistant student, who was inside the classroom, told the newspaper. "It was like it happened in slow motion."

The cave-in caused an air conditioning unit to fall into a classroom while another was left teetering precariously, Sabol said.

Authorities said the victims -- two teachers and 12 students -- were between 17 and 50 years old. The injuries -- which ranged from minor to moderate -- included back and neck problems, difficulty breathing and anxiety.

Most of the injured were released from the hospital by the afternoon, Lynne Porter, ROP assistant superintendent of educational services, told the Register.

Two teachers, including a 50-year-old who was trapped under debris for a while before she was removed, were among those released from the hospital, the newspaper reported.

The damage was confined to one classroom of the school, which offers training and programs to an adult student body of 100-150, and to a portion of a hallway, Sabol said.

Classes have been canceled through winter break, which runs through Jan. 5, Porter told the newspaper. It is unclear where the classes will resume.

Some 70 firefighters responded to the accident, many searching through the building several times to make sure everyone was out, Sabol said. The building remains red-tagged, meaning it is too unstable to be used.

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