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Archive for Thursday, April 5, 2007

Church needs more repairs after tower’s collapse, rooftop rescue

April 5, 2007

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Plymouth spire knocked down

In the evening after a tower on Plymouth Church partially collapsed, trapping a worker, crews took the tower down completely. Enlarge video

A Lawrence firefighter, at top left, catches a safety harness line thrown by a Mid-Continental Restoration Co. Inc. worker, right, as firefighters rescue the man from his boom truck and a church tower he was working on. The man was stabilizing the tower at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt., Wednesday when the tower partially collapsed.

A Lawrence firefighter, at top left, catches a safety harness line thrown by a Mid-Continental Restoration Co. Inc. worker, right, as firefighters rescue the man from his boom truck and a church tower he was working on. The man was stabilizing the tower at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt., Wednesday when the tower partially collapsed.

Fire crews used a ladder to rescue a worker from a tower atop Lawrence's oldest church Wednesday evening after the tower started to collapse during a remodeling project.

After the rescue at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt., the bigger challenge began: finding a way to safely bring down the rest of the crumbling tower. Crews planned to work into the night wrapping it with fencing material and using a crane to lift it down intact. They ended up knocking down the tower with a wrecking ball late Wednesday.

Traffic remained blocked Wednesday night in the 900 block of Vermont Street. Church events scheduled for today, including a noon holy week service, have been canceled.

The scene began about 5:15 p.m. Wednesday. Workers from Mid-Continental Restoration Co. Inc. of Fort Scott were filling the hollow brick tower with mortar in an effort to stabilize it in light of last year's windstorm that knocked down two other towers at the 137-year-old church.

"We realized that we needed to stabilize all the towers," said Peter Luckey, the church's pastor.

As the workers poured mortar into the center of the tower, it burst outward. Mortar flowed out of the tower and onto the church's roof, and bricks fell to the sidewalk below.

The only thing holding up the rest of the tower was the edge of the workers' boom truck, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire and Medical Chief Mark Bradford said. When rescue workers arrived, the worker who had been atop the tower was leaning halfway out of the truck's bucket, with his upper body spread against the tower for stability.

Bradford said the man, whose name wasn't released Wednesday night, was tethered to the truck and wasn't in imminent danger of falling. Still, he didn't try to climb off the tower until a firefighters' ladder had reached him.

Luckey said it was too early to estimate the cost of the damage.

The rescued worker smiles to onlookers after being rescued from atop Plymouth Congregational Church. The workers were trying to stabilize a tower on the church with mortar when the tower burst outward and mortar poured out onto the church's roof.

The rescued worker smiles to onlookers after being rescued from atop Plymouth Congregational Church. The workers were trying to stabilize a tower on the church with mortar when the tower burst outward and mortar poured out onto the church's roof.

Comments

budwhysir 7 years ago

We are a giving community and Im going to give my two cents.

Why not keep the trucks busy. And why not have the company pay for it. Afterall, someone must pay for that fancy artwork and painting we have at the fire house

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hawkperchedatriverfront 7 years ago

Well, the company shouldn't be held financially responsible for those trucks and ambulances anymore than the BARS DOWNTOWN are for the five to six police cars every friday and saturday night.

Thought this was a 'giving' community.

The concrete would have worked it it had been put in in layers and allowed to dry, layer by layer, just as many foundations were poured in town.

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ljreader 7 years ago

The bad decision to pour wet mortar in the spire resulted in many fire trucks, police and ambulances being dispatched to the scene where they were forced to remain for hours.- This company should be held accountable for these costs and reimburse the City. Hope the church fires this inept bunch.

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LongGoneFromLarryville 7 years ago

I'm with the Gal - My KU engineering degree is old and dusty, but this seems to be an eminently forseeable outcome...

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7 years ago

ok i think i understand, so he was trapped there only because his bucket bumped against the tower was the only thing keeping the tower from falling down? he wasn't really in danger of falling, he was just trying to keep a few people from being crushed by falling bricks and bricks punching thru the roof. if that is the case, then he wasn't like a kitten stuck in a tree but more of a hero type of guy. i wish that would have been more obvious in the article...

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ModSquadGal 7 years ago

Uh..... did anyone think to consult an engineer or something before they poured wet mortar (which is basically concrete) down the center of an already rickety 137-year old chimney? I'm no expert, but I think even I could have figured out THAT was a bad idea.

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prioress 7 years ago

Given the location, if he had fallen, wouldn't the skygod have reached down and caught him?

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