Twelve people suffered minor injuries when a building under construction partially collapsed in downtown Oakland Friday morning, burying workers under wet concrete and debris.
The workers were pouring concrete at about 9:30 a.m. when the floor fell out from under them, fire Battalion Chief Ian McWhorter said.
Oakland Fire Department Deputy Chief Darren White said all the workers were safely extricated after falling 10 to 15 feet into wet cement and getting buried in it and debris. Some workers were left hanging from scaffolding, McWhorter said. [[424646264, C]]
Oakland fire and police crews responded to the site, located at 3093 Broadway, a large mixed-use housing project by developer CityView and its financial backer Blockstone Group, after a caller alerted them to the incident at 9:30 a.m.
Blackstone Group LP, is the largest landlord in the U.S.
All 12 workers were transported to local hospitals and were treated for minor injuries, which McWhorter described as scrapes and bruises.
"Right now we don't know what caused this incident to occur," White said.
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"On-site workers did a great job with assisting those under small debris," McWhorter said.
Most workers were trapped up to their knee level, he added.
Cal-OSHA and a city engineer are on the scene investigating what caused the collapse.
"The company needs to know the safe way to do things," Peter Melton from Cal-OSHA said. "Their workers need to be properly trained on safe procedures. We want everyone to go home at the end of the day safe and sound."
The contractor for the proposed building is Johnstone Moyer, Inc. and the concrete contractor is listed as Largo Concrete, Inc.
According to federal inspection records reviewed by the Investigative Unit, both companies have been cited for safety violations in the past.
Largo Concrete, based in Tustin, was cited 5 times in the past 5 years, according to records from the Department of Labor. Two of those violations involved accidents. Largo Concrete was fined $8,655 for those violations, which were related to unsafe work conditions and the company’s injury prevention program. One violation was listed as “serious” and involved protocols that should have been in place to protect workers from being impaled by steel or other materials.
Johnston Moyer, based in San Carlos, was cited 6 times in the past 5 years for violations relating to safety conditions and permitting, according to federal inspection reports.
Neither company offered comment about the accident on Wednesday. [[424640974, C]]
Johnston Moyer had a Cal-OSHA inspection at the site on March 22 due to a complaint about safety at the site, a former Bay City Chevy dealership.
The proposed housing project is expected to open in 2018, and according to a Bloomberg report, has a budget of $150 million. It's unclear if that number has changed.
According to a building permit filed with the City of Oakland, the seven-story structure will include 423 apartments and 21,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor. The site is located next to a large retail project called the Shops at Broadway.
NBC Bay Area's SkyRanger showed several people being wheeled away in stretchers following the collapse.
Witness Armando Morales feared the incident was much worse than what actually transpired.
"With all these problems (happening) right now, the first thing that I think is is somebody put a bomb," he said.
Julie Morton, who was working at the medical building on Broadway and Webster, which is located right next to the site on Pill Hill, as the neighborhood is referred to, said she heard a loud sound.
"Our building shook and it literally felt like an earthquake — we looked out of the window and started taking video," Morton said. "It looked like the cement support gave away and the wet cement came pouring down on the workers. It covered a lot of the workers. Police and ambulances started arriving."[[424638604, C]]
Morton said the building has been under construction for a couple of months now.
"I'm really shook up, I'm praying for the workers safety," she said. "It's an awful sight to see."[[424658084, C]]