Remaining structure at Surfside building collapse site will be demolished

The standing structure at the Champlain Towers South collapse site will be demolished in the coming days and the search for victims has been suspended as a crew prepares for the demolition.

SURFSIDE, Fla. – The standing structure at the Champlain Towers South collapse site will be demolished in the coming days and the search for victims has been suspended as a crew prepares for the demolition.

When speaking during a Saturday media conference, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said new information from an expert in demolition allowed officials to determine the building could be brought down sooner than initially anticipated.

“Mayor Cava had experts that were telling her yesterday that it would be weeks before we could do it,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said on Saturday. “The governor and I sat in a meeting and it was obvious that the building was a problem, and we agreed that the only solution for that problem was to eliminate it, and we voiced those concerns to Mayor Cava.”

Officials say a new engineer firm was consulted and is now working on a plan to bring the building down.

Levine Cava said she signed an order to bring down the building on Friday.

“We decided yesterday to proceed with the demolition,” she said. “As to who would conduct the demolition, a new possibility arose, and that person is evaluating the scene right now.”

The mayor of Surfside says there is no need to evacuate surrounding properties and we’ve learned there is a possibility the demolition will start Monday, but things are very fluid.

“Engineers are on site, they are still conducting their due diligence, so we do not have an exact timeframe at this time,” Levine Cava said.

The company being used to bring the building down is CDI Controlled Demolition Inc.

Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said charges would be used in the controlled demolition.

“This proposed demolition is a very narrow footprint, so we’re not looking at major impacts to the area, or additional evacuations,” Levine Cava said.

The state will cover the cost of the demolition.

“At the end of the day, that building is too unsafe to let people go back in,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “I know there were people who were fortunately able to get out who have things there. We are sensitive to that, but I don’t think there’s any way you can let somebody in that building given the shape that it is in.”

Officials believe demolishing what’s left of the tower could actually help them get more of their men and women on the rubble and find victims more quickly as soon as they can get back to work.

“And we will begin the search and rescue once again on any sections of the pile that are safe to access as soon as we are cleared,” Levine Cava said.

There are so many parts of the debris that search and rescue teams have not been able to get to because of the threat of the standing structure.

Local 10 News has learned the collapse was so violent that in some areas, the first six floors of the tower are believed to be underground.

During Saturday’s press conference, Levine Cava said two bodies were pulled from the rubble overnight.

There have been 24 deaths attributed to the collapse while 124 people remain unaccounted for, as search efforts were temporarily hindered due to concerns with the remaining structure.

“The numbers are fluid and will continue to change,” the mayor said.

A petition has been created to urge officials to stop demolition plans until they are sure that all animals have been rescued from the standing building, however the mayor says search and rescue teams conducted three separate searches of the building and found no animals.

Complete coverage: Surfside Building Collapse

About the Authors:

David Dwork joined the WPLG Local 10 News team in August 2019. Born and raised in Miami-Dade County, David has covered South Florida sports since 2007.

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."