LAKEWOOD, Ohio (WJW) – Two days before Christmas, hundreds of Lakewood residents are spending the night away from home after the underground parking garage of their high-rise apartment building collapsed.
Thursday night, crews were still sifting through debris and pulling crushed cars from the rubble.
There are no reports of injuries, but all residents were evacuated as a precaution while crews clear debris and investigators look for a cause.
FOX 8 saw at least three cars, flattened, barely recognizable, pulled from the underground parking garage of the Marine Towers West apartment building.
“I had just come back in from taking the trash out. I had heard a few noises down in the underground because that’s where the dumpsters are located. I hurried up and went back up to my unit, I’m on the 12th floor and when I got to my unit, that’s when I heard the ‘boom’ and it shook the whole building, like left to right, right to left,” explained one resident, who did not want to give his name.
“There was like a little shake in the building, I thought it was like an earthquake or something… Just kind of like a ‘boom.’ It was quick, like ‘boom’ and that was it,” said resident Matt Bennett.
The view from SkyFox showed what residents heard. The parking garage had collapsed just before 10 a.m. Thursday.
Several residents called 911.
One caller said, “We have an emergency here in Lakewood at Marine Towers West.”
The dispatcher asked, “What’s going on?”
The caller responded with, “The whole garage thing just collapsed. It’s a major disaster here.”
“I’m on the 16th floor and I just heard them pounding on my door… I was in the shower and yeah, we had to evacuate. They said it might collapse and bring enough for 24 hours and then we had to take the stairs down,” said resident Megan Marett.
“They’ll do a complete assessment of the building, the structure itself, then they’ll open it back up. We’re hoping to open, turn it back over to the residents within the next 24 hours,” said Lakewood Fire Chief Timothy Dunphy.
Fire investigators say they do not know what caused the collapse. Crews spent the entire day shoring up the garage, sifting through rubble and making sure all residents were accounted for.
“We have reviewed some camera footage and it doesn’t appear that anyone was in the garage at the time of the collapse,” said Lakewood Mayor Meghan George.
The high-rise was built in the late 1960s and, according to the fire chief, it is inspected every year. Some residents say construction was going on inside the garage recently, but the fire chief says he isn’t aware of that.
“The construction was actually right where the sinkhole is, right up under there in the garage area,” said one resident.
“At this point, I do not know if there were contractors listed. If they were working on it, we haven’t determined that,” said Chief Dunphy.
The city of Lakewood, along with the American Red Cross, have found places for the displaced residents to stay until the building is deemed safe.
Residents were asked to leave as a precaution until crews can confirm the stability of the structure.