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Downtown crane dismantling progresses, some evacuations lift

Some crane evacuations lift

Madison Erhardt

UPDATE 3:35 p.m.

The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre has lifted some of the evacuation orders around the downtown Kelowna crane collapse site.

Emergency crews say the first stage of the crane disassembly process has been completed safely.

Thirteen addresses, mostly on Bernard Avenue, have been removed from the evacuation list.

“St. Paul Street is open to pedestrian traffic only, but all businesses on St. Paul St. and Bernard Ave. are open, including The District on Bernard (formerly Towne Centre Mall),” CORD said in a statement.

“For those returning to their homes or place of business, the power may have been off for several days.”

Bernard Ave remains closed to vehicles at Richter Street and open to pedestrian traffic only.

An evacuation order remains in place for several addresses closer to the crane collapse site.

A map of the new evacuation zone is below. A list of the impacted addresses is here.


UPDATE: 2:35 p.m.

Crews have started dismantling the rest of the crane that collapsed downtown Kelowna on Monday.

Site crews started work this afternoon after the body of a fifth man was retrieved overnight from the rubble.

At this time a local state of emergency remains in place as well as an evacuation order for homes in the vicinity of the crane collapse.

"Nothing has changed. We are waiting to find out from the site as they dismantle the crane. When we get information from the site we will be able to amend that and update it," said Kelowna fire chief Travis Whiting.

"Probably in the next couple of hours we will see an update," Whiting added.

Emergency crews had said they needed to remove the tower of the collapsed crane, as it is a topple risk, prior to the lifting of evacuation orders in the area.


UPDATE 9:55 a.m.

The leader of the specialized heavy urban rescue team that recovered the body of a man trapped in the rubble of the downtown Kelowna crane collapse says the mission was complex.

Vancouver Fire Rescue Assistant chief David Boone says the 16-member team arrived in Kelowna at about 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday and started work right away in confirming the location of the body.

Boone said Kelowna Fire Rescue had supplied them with “very good information” that they were able to confirm with their specialized gear.

“When we confirmed that this was a recovery and not a rescue, we were able to step back and take a methodical approach that serves the need of maintaining first responder safety throughout,” he said.

Boone described the complex scene.

“You are dealing with an unsecured steel structural member of the crane that is teetering on some lightweight wood-truss construction and the operator cab that is teetering on a floor that is partially collapsed.”

"How do we move things without injuring first responders or causing further injuries or effect to the victim" and preserving the scene for investigators, he added.

They used heavy rigging to remove parts of the steel crane and operator cab to allow them to reach the patient. They recovered the body at around midnight.

“It’s difficult, but that is what we come up for. Coming into something unknown is always difficult for any first responder.”

Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR) Task Force 1 consists of firefighters, police officers, paramedics, engineers, search and rescue members, canine searchers, rope rescue specialists, a logistical team and medics.

It is one of just six such teams in Canada.

Madison Erhardt

UPDATE 8:36 a.m.

Kelowna RCMP have now conformed that a fifth body has now been recovered from Monday’s fatal crane collapse.

"The body of the fifth victim of Monday’s crane collapse was recovered late last night. The Kelowna area man is believed to have been working in an adjacent building when the crane went down, burying him in under the rubble," according Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy.

Crews have been working to stabilize the crane and ensure that the site is safe for search crews. Just after midnight on July 14, the Vancouver Fire Department Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Team was able to enter the zone and recover his remains.

"Due to the privacy of the victim, no further information will be released regarding his identity," Says Cpl. Noseworthy

“Everyone involved in this tragic scene has worked tirelessly to bring the search for victims to an end,” says Insp. Adam MacIntosh of the Kelowna RCMP. “At this time, we do not believe there are any other persons who were injured or killed as a result of the collapse of this crane. Our deepest condolences go to the family, friends, and coworkers of those who were lost here.”

WorkSafeBC, the BC Coroners Service and the Kelowna RCMP are continuing their concurrent investigations into this incident today.

The evacuation order remains in effect as efforts continue to further secure and dismantle the crane. Once this has been accomplished, a reassessment will be done to determine if it is safe to rescind or reduce that order and allow residents and businesses to return, hopefully within the next day.

If you witnessed this incident, have not yet spoken to police, or have any information about this incident, you are urged to call the Kelowna RCMP Serious Crime Unit at 250-762-3300


UPDATE 8:05 a.m.

The body of the presumed-dead man who was buried in rubble after the downtown crane collapse has been recovered.

Lower Mainland media are reporting that the man’s body was recovered at around midnight by a specialized heavy urban rescue team led by Vancouver Fire Rescue assistant David Boone.

More to come...


ORIGINAL 4 a.m.

The recovery effort for the body of a presumed-dead man trapped inside the rubble of the downtown Kelowna crane collapse is entering day three.

A specialized team of first responders from Vancouver arrived in Kelowna late Tuesday and are expected to get to work right away.

The team, led by assistant chief of Vancouver Fire Rescue David Boone, consists of firefighters, paramedics, police and an engineer. It is one of six such teams in the country.

"We get briefed by the first responders that have been active on-site, we get briefed by their engineer and the engineer for the crane and we come up with an incident action plan and prepare the site for work," Boone said late Tuesday.

"In regards to actual activity of any sort, breaching walls, getting into the building, a lot of work has to occur before that happens."

The presumed-dead man was working in a building adjacent to the construction site when the crane came crashing down. The incident also claimed the life of four employees of Stemmer Construction, the owner of the crane.

RCMP said Tuesday they had hoped to recover the buried body by that afternoon, but that was contingent on an engineering assessment of the stability of the crane. Central Okanagan Emergency Operations then announced late Tuesday afternoon that the situation was still “evolving” and evacuations and closures would stay in place for another day at least.

Kelowna RCMP Insp. Adam MacIntosh said Tuesday that the remaining portions of the crane posed extreme danger to first responders during their initial response and things remain unstable.

“I think we are very fortunate no other lives were lost, no rescuers were injured and we want to keep it that way. We want to make sure it takes whatever time, using engineers to ensure that we do this as safely as possible,” he said.

Another woman who worked in the building next door to the site that was hit by the crane provided photos that showed the massive damage sustained by the offices.

Both the RCMP and developer of the site, Mission Group, have not said why the crane collapsed during the dismantling process on Monday morning. Still images from a Castanet webcam show the crane’s horizontal boom severely off-balance before it crashes down in a cloud of dust. You can learn about the complex process of dismantling a tower crane here.

A Twitter post Tuesday by Prime Minister Justice Trudeau read: "My heart is in Kelowna today, with the families, friends, and colleagues of the workers who lost their lives."

A candlelight vigil has been planned for Friday at 9 p.m. near the site of the crane collapse. The aim is to gather as close to the site as possible, organizers say, but the exact location has yet to be determined.

with files from the Canadian Press



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