Similar Tower Should Be Evacuated, Mayor Says

Fire and smoke impede search for survivors in building's rubble
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2021 5:20 PM CDT
Similar Tower Should Be Evacuated, Mayor Says
Rachel Spiegel hugs Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett as she asks for information Saturday about the building collapse. Spiegel's mother, Judy, is missing.   (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

A fire smoldering deep in the wreckage of the collapsed condo building in Florida is creating air-quality issues for rescue crews. Smoke has become the biggest hinderance in finding the source of the fire, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Saturday, adding that the crews working in the rubble of Champlain Towers South in Surfside were at "extreme risk." The air-quality threat to crews could be lasting, a University of Miami expert said. "There is no doubt that they are being exposed to pollutants and particulate matter that can lead to burns, short-term, and long-term lung injury," she said. Infrared technology is being used by crews, WTVJ reports. "We are facing incredible difficulties with this fire," Levine Cava said. Rescuers have made a trench to isolate the blaze while they look for victims, she said, per CNN. Another factor is a smell much like sulfur, per the AP. "The stench is very thick,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Surfside's mayor said he's recommending residents of the north tower nearby evacuate until its structural integrity can be assessed. "It was built at the same time with the same designer," DeSantis said, per the Miami Herald. FEMA has agreed to pay for temporary housing for those residents, Mayor Charles Burkett said. Evacuation won't be ordered, Burkett said, but he added that if he lived there, "I'd be gone." The city also is looking into the situation with Champlain Towers East, though that building appears to have been built at a different time and isn't in the same style. About 20 of the people missing since the collapse Thursday are Israelis, and Israel said Saturday it's sending engineering and rescue specialists to Surfside to help. No more victims had been found so far Saturday, Levine Cava said. (More building collapse stories.)

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