Officials are investigating what caused a chimney to collapse at a building in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood on Monday morning.
Firefighters were called to 361 Beacon St. at 10:22 a.m., where crews found that a chimney had collapsed from the roof to the first floor. Aerial footage from NBC10 Boston's Sky Ranger helicopter showed a gaping hole in the building.
Fire officials said the 4-story building was under construction at the time of the collapse and was unoccupied.
Residents on both sides of the building were evacuated as a precaution. Some told NBC10 Boston that the collapse sounded like an explosion and felt like an earthquake.
"The whole building shook," said Nancy Hunter, who lives next door. "It felt like an earthquake."
What Nancy Hunter felt next door wasn't quite what she saw.
She saw a hole in the roof of the building caused by the chimney collapse, and she says it damaged not just that property but also her own.
"The roof was damaged. The chimney is damaged. I don't know what the damage is because we haven't had anyone look at it."
But people were busy looking at what happened Monday.
At the time of the incident, construction crews were repairing some of the four chimneys of the vacant building when the top of one suddenly toppled over and fell four stories down.
"They were taking the right prescriptive steps," said Commissioner Buddy Christopher, of Boston's inspectional services department. "It was just a timing issue."
According to Christopher, the owner of the building had secured permits to fix problems with the centuries-old chimney system.
While Boston inspectional services says they are still looking into the cause, it could be related to the heavy snow on Saturday night into Sunday, followed by Monday's rapid melting.
"Five, six inches of really heavy, wet snow, then it dries out very quickly, the water melting, there's a lot of migration through the brick joints."
The collapse did not cause any injuries but did lead to evacuations in the buildings on either side.
"It sounded like an explosion," one witness said.
"It just shook like crazy," said Jeff Kaplan, who lives next door.
Following an inspection of the property, neighbors were able to return home, though the building will need significant repairs.
The commissioner couldn't say how long the new repairs will take, but it will be costly.
Police temporarily closed the block of Beacon Street between Fairfield Street and Gloucester Street to traffic so the investigation could be completed. That area has since reopened.