NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Several North Miami Beach residents were left shocked after a crane came crashing down on their apartment building.
Those who live in the complex located in the area of Northeast 169th Street and 35th Avenue said they thought it was either lightning, a transformer explosion or a gunshot that rang out just after 10:30 p.m., Sunday.
“It was like ‘eerrrrr!’” said resident Arthur Smith.
“I thought it was an explosion,” said another neighbor.
“Sounds like a plane crash,” said another.
“The building shook,” another neighbor said.
With a sigh of relief, Smith admitted it could have been a lot worse.
“I’m feeling blessed,” he said. “I got up. I looked out the window, and I see sparks coming from that barge that was against the back. Got up this morning, had a coffee and I said, ‘Let me go see what happened,’ because naturally, we were all in the back, and all you could see was police lights.”
Smith and his fellow neighbors came back to their North Miami Beach condo Monday but were not yet allowed to enter after eight families in total were forced to evacuate Sunday night because of the crashed crane.
“I thought at the beginning it was lightning,” said resident Claudia Spetsiotas. “I was very lucky because that crane was in front of my apartment two days ago.”
On Monday morning, crews put their original job of fixing a sea wall on hold to clean up the mess caused instead. It took much of the day to disassemble the crane, get it off the building and try to get the barge afloat.
“When you live a couple feet from a crane, that’s about, I don’t know, 50, 60 feet tall, you think about it, but you don’t think it’s going to happen,” said Smith.
But late Sunday night, it did, and crews believe they know what happened.
“Barges are composed of wall plants or different cavities, and if one of them is full of water, it’s like a chain,” said Efrain Daleccio, safety director of the Shoreline Foundation.
A chain reaction that caused the barge to tilt the crane into the water and its boom onto the building, causing a mess on shore and in the canal.
“The canal here is booned off on both sides to contain the oil, and then, we’re going to work on removing that through the remainder of today,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Jr. Grade Lia Carter.
As crews now work to repair the damage, Smith and his fellow evacuees are ready to return home.
“I think the timeline is to remove that, and then evaluate the structure, which hopefully will be today,” said Smith.
Eight units have been deemed unsafe as of Monday night. The notices were placed near the doors, and those families were forced to find somewhere else to stay.
7News cameras captured the partially submerged barge in the water.
Thankfully, no one was seriously injured in the incident.
The base of the crane remains inside the canal, and it remains unknown when the cleanup will be completed.
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