September 9, 2019 7:00 pm
Updated: September 10, 2019 8:24 am

‘There’s still a lot of danger ‘: Evacuation order issued for homes near collapsed Halifax crane

Restoration efforts have been going full force in the 48 hours since Hurricane Dorian made landfall in Nova Scotia. As Alicia Draus reports, much of their attention has been on a large crane that came crashing down on the city’s downtown.

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An evacuation order has been issued for several properties near a construction crane in downtown Halifax that collapsed during Hurricane Dorian on Saturday.

Halifax Regional fire and Emergency (HRFE) officials issued the evacuation order Monday evening to “protecting the health, safety, and welfare” of residents near the crane.

The order has been issued for the following addresses:

  • 1445 South Park St., units 1306, 1206, 1105, 1005, 905, 805, 705, 605, 505, and 405
  • 1459, 1463, 1477, and 1491 South Park St.
  • 5688 and 5690 Spring Garden Rd.

WATCH: Video captures moment crane collapses in downtown Halifax during storm

According to HRFE, the decision to execute the order was made Monday afternoon at the advice of structural engineers, as well as representatives from the Department of Labour & Advanced Education, Halifax Regional Police, Transportation & Public Works, and the associated property owners.

“This is still a very dangerous scene and protection for residents was required,” HRFE Chief Dave Meldrum said Monday night.

READ MORE: Canadian Forces to help Halifax with massive post-Dorian cleanup

Meldrum says 13 residential units and four businesses are under the evacuation order, impacting 30 to 40 people. Those impacted were given the option of staying at a shelter at the Canada Games Centre or with friends and family.

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There currently is not a timeline on how long the evacuation order will last, but Meldrum says it could be in place for days and possibly weeks.

“This is going to be a very complex engineering job,” said Meldrum. “The fire service, we are not structural engineers. We’re a public safety agency.

“But we do know there’s still a lot of danger at this site.”

The crane remains bent over an unfinished building, dangling onto the road. South Park Street from Spring Garden Road to Brenton Place will remain closed until officials deem the area safe. Part of Victoria Park is also off limits.

The crane was being used by Lead Construction on a site owned by WM Fares Group. Wadih Fares, the president and CEO of WM Fares Group, says the crane was put into a storm-ready position in preparation for Dorian, and the crane itself was built to withstand winds of up to 200km/h.

“Why it didn’t, we don’t know,” he said Monday afternoon.

“We will try and do whatever we can to find out why it didn’t withstand the wind speed and why it did collapse.”

The construction site has been placed under a stop-work order by the Department of Labour and Occupational Health and Safety, who is conducting an investigation. Engineers are on scene to determine the extent of damage and how best to remove the crane.

The fire department was also on scene Monday assisting efforts by using their drone to get a better look at damage.

Lawyers Eugene Tan and Ian Gray say their firm will be significantly impacted. Fire officials have told them they’re not allowed back into the building, where all their case files remain.

“We’re going to have to call the Barristers Society in the morning because there’s stuff we can do and there’s stuff we just can’t do,” Gray said. “We will certainly do everything we can to minimize (the impact), but it is what it is. I can’t get in to get my files.”

READ MORE: Army response to hurricane Dorian gets off to slow start in Dartmouth

Area resident Chris Breckenridge watched as the crane swayed in the wind on Saturday and questions why it was every left up in the first place.

“If it had (fallen) the other way, thousands of people live within a tiny block, they would have all been affected,” he said. “There’s a huge safety issue with this.”

But Fares points out that all across the city cranes were left standing during the storm, and says it’s not feasible to take down cranes if not necessary.

“You have to shut down the streets for a week or two to bring mobile cranes to take it down piece by piece so it’s a two week procedure,” he said.

 

 

 

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