Mayor: Inspection Needed of Condo Next to Collapsed Building

SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) -
Rescue personnel continue search-and-rescue operations for survivors of a partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, near Miami Beach, Florida, June 26. (Reuters/Marco Bello)

The mayor of Surfside, Florida, said Saturday he is working on a plan to temporarily relocate residents of a condominium tower built by the same developer of the nearby building that collapsed Thursday.

But Mayor Charles Burkett said he was not yet prepared to order everyone in the building to evacuate.

Burkett also said he’s trying to arrange an emergency inspection of Champlain Towers North, which was constructed the same year and by the same developer as the crumbled 12-story Champlain Towers South. It sits about 100 yards away, along Collins Avenue, which runs parallel to the Atlantic Ocean north of downtown Miami.

Until that happens, Burkett said he can’t tell residents whether they’re safe in their homes.

“I know that the identical building collapsed for an inexplicable reason,” Burkett said. “Buildings in the United States do not just fall down… Something very, very wrong was going on at that building and we need to find out.”

Asked what he would do if he lived in the collapsed building’s twin, Burkett said, “I’d be gone.”

The mayor stopped short of saying he would order residents to evacuate.

“If there are those folks that feel confident that there is not an issue, we don’t want to force them out of their homes,” Burkett said. “However, for those that are frightened and concerned, I wanted to make sure that they had options.”

He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to pay for temporary lodging for residents who agree to leave. He said it’s still undetermined where they would stay.

Burkett said city officials are also gathering details about a third building, Champlain Towers East, that’s built in a different style and appears to have been constructed at a different time. Because of the name and its close proximity to the other two, the mayor said, officials want to determine if there are safety concerns with that condo building as well.