Two days after the Wyndham Crescent condo fire, a dark cloud still hangs over the area in the form of a 130-foot tall construction crane.
“We don’t know how safe it is right now,” City of Kelowna risk manager Lance Kayfish told Global News.
That’s why Central Okanagan Emergency Operations expanded its evacuation order on Wednesday night and declared a local state of emergency for properties within a 300-foot radius of the construction site.
The crane’s structural integrity is still unknown after Tuesday morning’s big blaze, which gutted the condominium project at the corner of Glenmore and Union roads.
“We absolutely have to err on the side of caution to make sure that community safety is taken care of,” said Kayfish.
“Obviously, this is a residential neighbourhood. There is an elementary school nearby and we just want to make sure that in the unlikely event that the crane was to fall down, nobody would be hurt.”
On Wednesday, nearby townhouses at Parklane Townhomes were a flurry of insurance-investigator activity as some residents were allowed to return home.
On Thursday morning, though, fences were erected, blocking off almost all access to the area, and the Parklane Townhomes were completely empty due to the new order.
Down the street and around the corner at Wyndham Terrace, the evacuation order is still in place for nine homes and Glenmore Road is still closed between Scenic and Cross.
Part of the problem in assessing the crane’s structural integrity is the crane’s actual position as opposed to its condition.
“The crane itself is actually set on top of a suspended slab on top of a parkade, and that slab is reinforced with metal bracing from below,” Kayfish explained.
Unfortunately, no one knows the condition of the slab or the metal bracing.
“Right now, they are actually working on a safety plan to get on-site to do a safety inspection of the crane,” Kayfish said.
Dave Nahal from Wyndham Developments, the site’s owners, told Global News that he expects an engineering firm to be on-site Friday to begin the initial assessment work.