A six-story apartment building partially collapsed Sunday evening in the eastern Iowa city of Davenport, injuring at least eight people, authorities said.
“We are currently finishing the rescue phase of our operation and soon it will become a recovery operation,” Davenport Fire Chief Mike Carlsten said Monday morning. Canines were brought in to help.
Carlsten and Davenport Mayor Mike Matsen said first responders who rushed in at their own peril saved lives.
The collapse happened shortly before 5 p.m. local time Sunday, Carlsten said. The cause of the collapse was not immediately clear.
Seven people were rescued initially and another was pulled out overnight, officials said. More than a dozen others were escorted out of the building as they were “self evacuating,” Carlsten said.
In addition to those rescued, more than a dozen people were escorted out of the building as they were “self evacuating,” Carlsten said.
Specialized rescue teams were called in to assist with the search of the debris.
An air ambulance landed near by Sunday night, The Quad-City Times reported.
One tenant described a harrowing scene to the paper, saying she managed to get out as “everything just fell down and everything fell on top of me” but her wife and their cats were still inside.
Fire crews found a “large natural gas leak,” Carlsten said. Water was also raining down from broken pipes, the Times said, adding that gas and water lines to the building were shut off.
The fire department was concerned about the structural integrity of the rest of the building.
“Even while we were on scene, we still had multiple secondary drops of debris coming from that structure,” Carlsten said. “We want to make sure all our responders can are able to process through in a safe manner, but we still want to get through there as quickly as possible.”
The building’s owner had secured permits for repairs on its exterior brick walls, officials said. The owners had two other permits issued for exterior brickwork over the last year, officials said. Falling bricks were reported over the last week from that repair work.
Various tenants have called the city to complain about different problems with the building. “Notices and orders were issued to the building owner for repairs,” one official said.
Davenport is about 70 miles from Cedar Rapids along the eastern part of the state’s border with Illinois.