Firefighters Describe Building Collapse

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We’re getting a firsthand account of the disaster encountered by Omaha firefighters as they arrived on the scene of the structural collapse at International Nutrition on Monday.

Keith Everett and David Ball died in the accident and several of their co-workers were injured.

Omaha firefighters talked with WOWT 6 News Friday afternoon about some of the rescues.

Acting Captain Chris Hopkins said, "Myself and my candidate went to the front of the building to look for trapped personnel."

Hopkins said that from the outside, he couldn’t tell the extent of the damage. It became clear when he entered the building, saw the tangled rubble and heard one of the survivors.

"He was trapped but he was talking to us," Hopkins said.

They walked through a second-level doorway. Walls were cracked under the weight of the collapsed floor above. Twenty feet to the left, they found a man covered in debris.

“He told us his legs were trapped,” Hopkins said. “He couldn't move. That's when we started to remove concrete, plywood, metal shelving - all that stuff off of him. There was also rock debris on him that we had to dig out."

Captain Duane Eivins said, "We risk a lot to save a lot. That's our job."

The firefighters told us they knew the danger but could only think about getting to the injured workers. All along, other crews were on other sides of the building.

Captain Dave Kirchofer said, "That's when we noticed there were workers trapped about 70-feet off the ground on what was left of the third floor. It was a very precarious situation."

It took 20 to 25 minutes to free the man behind the stairwell, cutting away the steel that pinned his legs.

Hopkins told us, “He said he wanted to make sure his friend knew he didn't leave him but he had no idea where his friend was. He just mentioned that to us."

They also located Keith Everett and David Ball on the second floor but there was nothing they could do for them.

Firefighters had their pry bars and axes in hand when they arrived Monday to go through the debris. They went back for a power saw once they had to cut the steel from the man's legs.


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