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Operation to remove crane dangling over Midtown could last through weekend

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Authorities say it may take days to remove a crane dangling over Midtown that has prompted the evacuation of several buildings nearby.

Construction officials said equipment has been brought in from other states to assist in the process. Two other cranes have been erected to dismantle the compromised crane.

“There will be increased activity at the jobsite as the team continues to erect and position assist cranes, which take significant time to assemble,” officials said. “The team is reinforcing the tower crane that will then be dismantled. We appreciate the residents’ and community’s patience during this process.”

Only one residential building was evacuated and the construction company, Brasfield & Gorrie, said they worked with building management to provide other accommodations for those residents.

The situation first unfolded at 13th Street NE at West Peachtree Street NE on Friday morning. Authorities said there was some sort of mechanical failure with the crane that has caused it to become unstable.

Atlanta police said Friday afternoon that officials feared the crane was in jeopardy of falling down.

“That lead the top of the crane to start to lean, as you can see behind me. The crane, I can say, is in jeopardy of falling down,” said Atlanta Fire Capt. Cortez Stafford. “The concern is if this crane comes down, how will it affect the other buildings in the area? What building will it damage?”

Just before 7 p.m. Friday night, a crane reinforcement arrived on the scene to help bring the unstable crane down safely.

Fire officials said crews were taking down the crane when one of the hydraulic cylinders malfunctioned.

“We’re also waiting on some additional cranes to come to this location to assist dismantling the crane, which they were in the process of doing when this malfunction happened,” Stafford said.

Atlanta Fire Department said that multiple buildings in the area have been evacuated.

Police said area is shut down between 11th and 14th streets.

Authorities estimate that the area will be closed for 24 to 48 hours.

No injuries have been reported.

Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston was in Midtown, where construction crews have been working on the building for about two years.

Alex Fawal, who lives next door, was forced to evacuate.

“We just got an alert telling us to leave as soon as possible,” Fawal said. “It was a shock to me. I’m just glad I got out of here when I did, so hopefully nothing bad will happen.”

Officials said that tomorrow seems like the best-case scenario for when a lot of the evacuees will be able to come home.

One evacuated couple said they plan to stay with a friend for the weekend.

Denise and and P.K. Kalentzistzis said they grabbed everything they could.

“We heard them talking about maybe having to evacuate the building, so we just ran down, grabbed our stuff and just bounced before everything shut down,” he said.

The Atlantic House has arranged for residents to stay at a nearby building through the weekend.

Atlanta Fire said that a crane engineer will be assessing the situation and that two mobile cranes will assist with bringing down the damaged crane.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr learned that the crane is operated by Brasfield and Gorie. There were no red flags in any recent OSHA records or city building inspection records, but those agencies will want to know who was operating the crane and what was happening with the system used to get it that high against the building.

Carrtalked to three crane operators or inspectors, who all said the same thing: They believe contractors were jacking the crane down to a level where they could dismantle it and lost control of the weight.

Retired crane inspector Ronald Brodek agreed.

“They were jumping the tower crane,” Brodek said. “It jumps 19 feet, six inches at a time. The only thing that was supporting it was hydraulic jack and that’s usually run by a portable hydraulic pump. It’s an electric hydraulic pump and it charges the cylinder and then the cylinder will raise the crane up and the crane, there’s a certain position it’s got to be in so it’s balanced.”

Brodek said the incident could have been much worse.

“Disastrous,” Brodek said. “It could have been really bad.”

Brodek said OSHA will probably be asking who was running the jack and whether or not all the safeties were in place or there were any leaks.

“Maybe a hydraulic line blew,” Brodek said. “I don’t know. You just don’t know. Maybe a seal blew the jack.”

Carr asked Brodek if the issue was caused by human error and he said it was.

“Once you’re up so high, a mobile crane from the ground can’t do it,” Brodek said.

 

 

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