MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Months before the collapse, residents of the Champlain Towers were warned that the damage in the building had worsened.
CBS4’s Hank Tester spoke with a prominent structural engineer hired by the city of Surfside to inspect the condo collapse scene.
“In situations like this, most probably it will not be one condition alone that will cause this to happen. But there’s a trigger of some type,” explained Allyn Kilsheimer. “And if that trigger wouldn’t have happened, then it probably wouldn’t have come down.”
Kilsheimer has worked the 9/11 terrorist attack and the FIU bridge collapse, among many others. In the case of the Surfside collapse, he said every causation option is possible.
“Everything. Impact, an explosion from below, a car hitting a column, problems with the roof slab collapsing down and therefore collapsing everything else, problems with the foundation. All that kind of stuff,” he said.
In 2018, Morabito Consultants detailed problems and concerns with the building. It provided a figure of over $9 million to repair by April of 2021. The condo president’s letter to condo owners painted a discouraging picture of the building condition laced with a price tag of over $16 million to make repairs.
“…the observable damage such as in the garage has gotten significantly worse since the initial inspection. When you can visually see the concrete spalling (cracking), that means that the rebar holding it together is rusting and deteriorating beneath the surface… The concrete deterioration is accelerating.”
“You start with a list of 20 to 30 possibilities. You get it down to five or six, then maybe you have added 10 more,” Kilsheimer said.
So what caused the domino effect that took down the potentially weakened building? That hunt for an answer will be lengthy.
“You begin research what the trigger might be. We are thinking about possible trigger and we will add and subtract as we go along,” said Kilsheimer.
Neither consultants nor building management and residents considered the potential of a collapse. And neither does Kilsheimer.
“I didn’t see anything in those pictures that made me say I think this building is in imminent danger of collapsing,” he said.
Several lawsuit have been filed already. Multiple structural engineers are engaged in the investigation. It’s now likely a grand jury investigation is coming.