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Halifax fire partially lifts evacuation order for some properties near downed crane

ABOVE:Crews make big gains on crane removal in Halifax

Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency has amended the evacuation order that was issued as part of the removal of the fallen crane in downtown Halifax.

In a Halifax Regional Municipality news release, HRFE Deputy Chief David Meldrum stated it is now safe to re-occupy the buildings located at 5690 Spring Garden Road and 1491 South Park Street.

The addresses include the Eastlink building at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street, as well as the attached apartment building

Meldrum said sidewalk fencing will be moved to allow pedestrian access to 1491 South Park Street, but all other street and sidewalk closures remain in effect.

“The decision to allow re-occupation of two buildings today has been made in consultation with professional engineers working on the crane removal project,” Meldrum stated. “Further amendments to the evacuation orders will be made as soon as it is safe to do so.”

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

Significant progress was made on Monday to remove the storm-toppled tower crane, which fell as a result of high winds during post-tropical storm Dorian.

It was a slow start on Sunday, but project manager David Hamilton says they’ve made some big gains.

“Today is going a little better than yesterday,” said project manager David Hamilton. “Yesterday we had some delays, once we took the catwalk off the top of the crane, it exposed a little more difficulty welding than we initially thought. We had initially given an hour for welding and it turned out to be six hours.”

Throngs of people gathered along Spring Garden Road to witness work crews cut through the 30 tonnes of twisted steel. For the past month and a half, the tower crane has remained draped precariously around the condo building it was constructing.

Work underway to dismantle toppled crane in Halifax that fell during Hurricane Dorian
Work underway to dismantle toppled crane in Halifax that fell during Hurricane Dorian

By late afternoon, the majority of the front and the rear end of the crane’s jib and counter jib were successfully removed.

When the rear hoist was finally cut free from the side of the building under construction, the crowd cheered as the big yellow steel piece was lowered to the ground.

It’s delicate work when dangling from a crane, as workers use an acetylene torch to cut through the heavy steel.

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“The guy who was using the torch was actually cutting blind,” said Hamilton. “So he had to cut the metal and the guys inside (the building) were trying to guide him and he’s in a basket that’s 200 feet above the ground and so it’s a little tough.”

READ MORE: Removal of toppled crane in Halifax to begin Sunday

The steel frame of the crane had to be fastened first to the building in order to remove it one piece at a time.

The Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Renewal would not take any questions, but said they would provide more information regarding the cleanup efforts later this week.

There is still no timeline for when the cleanup will be complete.

Early Sunday morning, 11 more apartment units from the adjacent Trillium Tower were forced to evacuate, and a local state of emergency remains in place for the area.

With files from Graeme Benjamin.