Evacuation order issued for some living near collapsed Halifax crane

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:

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.

“The evacuation order commences immediately and will continue until the situation can be stabilized and risk to residents can be mitigated,” a news release from the Halifax Regional Municipality reads.

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.

“There’s a tremendous amount of damage. The crane structure, which we understand to be incredibly strong with six-inch solid steel members, which are broken in some cases and severely bent in others,” he said.

“This is still a dangerous scene.”

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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