VANCOUVER – Ongoing work at a construction site in downtown Vancouver has been stopped and an investigation is underway after a facade fell off a church building onto scaffolding, sending three workers to a hospital.
Samantha Newlove, a traffic control worker, said the incident happened on Wednesday as concrete was being pumped into a chimney on the building, which burst, toppled over and pushed over a scaffolding tower, pinning workers underneath.
“It was pretty traumatizing watching it all tumble over and hearing all the guys screaming for help and stuff like that,” she said. “It’s not something I wanted to deal with today.”
Assistant fire chief Jarret Gray with Vancouver Fire Rescue Services was on site after the incident and said firefighters had to pull rubble off one of the workers and use a crane to lower the injured workers off the building.
The workers had non-life-threatening injuries, he said, and the next step is a WorkSafeBC investigation.
“We’ll see when the site opens up again,” Gray said.
Other workers on the site of the First Baptist Church and the adjoining building known as the Butterfly were being sent home after the injured workers were taken to hospital.
The church is undergoing seismic upgrade and restoration work.
A statement from the contracting firm Haebler Construction said the collapse took place while renovations and seismic upgrade work was underway at the church site and they sincerely regret that it occurred.
Suzanne Bailuk, vice-president of finance with Haebler, said operations at the site have been suspended and an investigation is underway.
“We take the safety of our employees and the workers on site very seriously (and) sincerely regret that this incident has occurred,” Bailuk said in a written statement.
The statement said they are working with WorkSafeBC and the city to investigate the cause.
“We wish the workers a speedy recovery and wish to express our gratitude to the first responders for their prompt and effective efforts in helping manage the situation,” the statement said.
Captain Matthew Trudeau with Vancouver Fire Rescue Services said they were called to a report of a structural collapse.
Traffic was closed near the downtown site, but the street soon reopened.
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