Rescuers save man trapped after Washington, D.C., building collapse

DC Fire & EMS firefighters used saws and other equipment to cut through wood and other debris that trapped the man for more than 90 minutes


By Michael Balsamo
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Five workers were injured Thursday when a building under construction collapsed in the nation's capital, trapping one man for more than an hour as firefighters worked feverishly to free him from layers of debris.

The collapse happened around 3:30 p.m. in the Brightwood Park neighborhood of Washington.

District of Columbia Fire and EMS Chief Chris Holmes gives Search and Rescue K-9 Kimber water after they helped locate a person who was trapped in a building that collapsed Thursday, July 1, 2021, in Washington. Fire officials said the building was under construction and fully collapsed.
District of Columbia Fire and EMS Chief Chris Holmes gives Search and Rescue K-9 Kimber water after they helped locate a person who was trapped in a building that collapsed Thursday, July 1, 2021, in Washington. Fire officials said the building was under construction and fully collapsed. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Fire officials said the five-story building was under construction when it fully collapsed, injuring all the workers at the site. Firefighters worked for more than 90 minutes to free one man man from the rubble, using saws and other equipment to cut through wood and other debris that trapped him.

District of Columbia Fire and EMS Chief John Donnelly said four other construction workers were pulled out of the rubble after rescuers arrived at the scene and they were all taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The man who was trapped was first found by a search and rescue dog and was stuck under about three floors worth of debris, Donnelly said. He was able to communicate with the firefighters but was trapped in an area with about 8 inches (20.32 centimeters) of space around him, the chief said.

Firefighters had to use chainsaws and electric saws and move wooden boards, walls and other debris to free him. Once he was freed, emergency crews rushed him to the hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries, Donnelly said.

City officials said the five-story building was under construction and authorities were still working to determine if proper permits were issued and regulations were being followed. An inspector from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the agency that regulates construction in Washington, was also sent to the scene after the collapse.

Officials said it was too early to determine a cause or to say whether a storm rolling through may have played any role.

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