LAKEWOOD, Ohio (WJW) – Search crews began sifting through the debris of an underground parking garage that collapsed in Lakewood Thursday, leading to the evacuation of an estimated 200 residents of the Marine Towers West apartments.
Crews worked to shore up portions of the collapsed garage Thursday evening so investigators could search to confirm no one was trapped inside.
A portion of a two-level underground garage adjacent to the high-rise apartment building caved in just before 10 a.m. Thursday.
“It’s a fairly sizable collapse,” Lakewood Fire Chief Timothy Dunphy said. “It’s a pancake collapse, so the second floor deck collapsed onto the first floor deck and subsequently sections of that also came down.”
Dunphy said crews would remain at the site as long as needed to complete the search.
Lakewood officials said after reviewing surveillance video, rescuers determined no one appeared to be in the area at the time of the collapse and there were no injuries.
“We did review some camera footage, and it appears to verify that, but we still have our teams there confirming,” Mayor Meghan George said.
Marine Towers West residents who were inside their apartments at the time of the collapse said they felt the building shake and heard a boom.
Firefighters then went door-to-door, telling residents to evacuate and to expect to be out of the building for at least 24 hours.
Residents gathered clothing and their pets and called family or friends for a ride because their vehicles were trapped inside the garage.
Residents who were not home at the time of the collapse were not allowed into the building.
City officials said building management was also calling a roster of residents to ensure that all were accounted for.
Officials said structural engineers were evaluating the integrity of the remaining garage structure and the attached apartment tower.
Dunphy said the cause of the collapse and full extent of the damage remained under investigation. He said at least two dozen vehicles were inside the garage at the time of the collapse, but it was unclear how many may have been crushed.
The collapse occurred near the entrance to the garage, typically a highly-trafficked area.
Property records show the building was constructed in 1963 and has 171 units. The owner is listed as Marine Towers LLC, and the building’s website indicates it is managed by Burton Carol Management LLC. The company had not yet responded to FOX 8’s request for information.
George said the building is inspected annually but did not offer details about any previous inspection reports or potential red flags. Murphy said he was not aware of any previous structural issues at the property.
The City of Lakewood set up a hotline at 1-866-647-1306 to provide displaced residents with information about the collapse and evaluation.
George said all residents had found a place to stay Thursday night, including with relatives or in hotel rooms provided by the city.