Plant worker: Heavy rain to blame for partial building collapse

Published: Jun. 1, 2015 at 7:07 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 11, 2015 at 7:07 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - From the outside, you can't tell that part of the interior of a Columbia Industrial Park warehouse is trashed.

"Everybody heard the noises, and, you know, they knew something was going on. We just cleared the area,” said James Greene, a plant supervisor at Thermal Engineering Corporation. "There's probably a hole in the building probably 50 feet across and 100 feet long. Gas lines, air lines, water lines, everything broke with it. It all imploded into an assembly area we use."

Firefighters and first responders rushed to the plant off Bluff Road around 2:30 on Monday afternoon. They say the roof of the facility, where industrial ovens and infrared grills are built, partially collapsed.

"We had no injuries. Employees were great evacuating from the structure. They were very helpful to us and providing information to our responders,” said Captain Brick Lewis with Columbia Fire Department. “We were very fortunate not to have any injuries."

Greene told WIS as the rain poured down heavily outside, they had clues the roof was about to collapse.

"As we were standing there talking, we just kept hearing snapping and popping. Then, the roof just imploded,” he said.

Since then, the broken natural gas lines inside the building have been shut off. Greene's just glad no one was hurt or killed, as the manufacturing plant gets ready to make repairs.

"Well, we'll have to assess all the damage, call the proper contractors in to help us where they can, and just, you know, try to reopen as fast as possible, because we're really busy this year,” said Greene.

WIS is told the Columbia plant helps out in the construction of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in North Charleston. Firefighters left the scene around dinner time Monday evening. Lewis says they're still investigating to determine if rain was to blame for the collapse.

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