‘Amazing There Weren't More Injuries': Building Collapse Investigation Continues

All occupants of the Allston restaurant were evacuated

An investigation continues into what caused a Boston restaurant facade to collapse, injuring two people.

Firefighters responded to the single-story commercial building on Harvard Avenue that houses Common Ground in the city's Allston neighborhood for a report of a facade collapse shortly before 3 p.m. Sunday.

"It sounded like an earthquake, I went running upstairs and went to go run out the door and was like uh, oh stop not going anywhere," Common Ground owner Bob Oguin said.

Inspectional Services Commissioner William Christopher, who was out with a team assessing the Harvard Avenue building on Monday, says the focus at this point is on the building's sign, which was attached to the facade of the building.

Investigators inspected the building from the outside, inside and from the roof top and determined that everything that failed is on the exterior of the building. Christopher says he believes a recent freeze/thaw cycle may have had something to do with the collapse as well as the position of the restaurant sign.

"It's called a blade sign. The sign was perpendicular to the building, that was tied to the masonry, and so we had some extreme winds the past two weeks and there was vibration and movement of that that we think could have dislodged one of the blocks," Christopher said. "Once one block is dislodged, and falls then it's a domino effect for all the rest of the pieces to come down."

Photos of the scene tweeted out by the department showed large chunks of the restaurant's roof and facade had crashed onto the sidewalk in front of the brick building.

The department said two people were injured, one of them critically. It said everyone in the restaurant was safely evacuated.

"In many ways, it's amazing that there weren't more injuries," Deputy Boston Fire Chief Stephen McNeil said.

Fire officials said the building sustained $500,000 in damage. They said all utilities have been shut down to the buildings affected and it will take some time for officials to assess the structural integrity of the buildings.

The owner says the restaurant will be closed for six months and employees are going to lose their wages. He's hoping insurance will cover it.

Fire officials also reported on Sunday that a dozen residents in the nearby Brighton neighborhood were placed in temporary housing after a tree toppled by Saturday's high winds partially collapsed of a four-story building's fire escape. No injuries were reported in that incident.

According to ISD records, the facade of this building was last inspected when Kimchi Papi Kitchen applied for a sign in April of this year, and there were no issues detected at that time.

Crews will begin working on removing the brick panel and getting at least some of the businesses back open soon.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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