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Surfside building collapse: Engineers search for clues at Champlain Towers North

Engineers inspect Champlain Towers North in Surfside
Engineers inspect Champlain Towers North in Surfside

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Just three properties north of the tragic collapse in Surfside, engineers were investigating the structure of a 12-story building by the same developer of the Champlain Towers South.

Engineers descended Wednesday on Champlain Towers North, at 8877 Collins Ave. Both the South and North buildings were built in 1981, with the same materials and with similar designs.

The North tower has a little more than 110 apartments. Maria Pujol, who works at the high-rise condominium, said she wasn’t afraid to go to work after the tragedy.

“I am feeling safe ... everything is okay in that building,” Pujol said calmly.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said the engineers were using ground-penetrating radar, inspecting the columns, and looking for clues that could shed light on exactly why the South tower collapsed June 24.

“I believe the answer is going be found beneath the ground, beneath the building, and that is going to take a little time to get to,” Burkett said.

Champlain Towers East at 8855 Collins Ave. was built in 1994. Residents there released photographs showing damaged concrete and rust in the parking garage area. They complained when they learned an inspector found there were no structural concerns there. Some decided to evacuate.

Burkett said they are worried there may be a design issue.

“It may affect more than just these two buildings we are looking at right now, the collapsed building and the sister building, but we don’t know, but we are going to find out,” Burkett said.

Meanwhile, the search-and-rescue operation, at 8777 Collins Ave., turned into a search-and-recovery mission. The official death toll increased to 54, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

COMPLETE COVERAGE

Fear of unsafe buildings

July 6

Some residents of Crestview Towers said they were not surprised when officials condemned the building in North Miami Beach.
City evacuates 300 from condominium building in North Miami Beach

July 5: Uncertainty surrounds North Miami Beach condo’s safety and when residents can return

July 4: Engineer reports Crestview Towers in North Miami Beach was safe for occupancy, attorney says

Miami Beach condemns 'unsafe' building on Lenox Avenue

July 3: Apartment building in Miami Beach evacuated after structural issues discovered

July 2: North Miami Beach condemns ‘unsafe’ condo, evacuates about 300 residents

Miami Beach building residents displaced over safety concerns

July 1

June 30

June 29

Residents of other 'unsafe' structures fear outcome of Surfside building collapse

June 28: Residential property audit announced by Miami-Dade mayor already underway

June 25:

COMPLETE COVERAGE

Surfside building collapse

In this satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies heavy-lift cranes are used to aid in the search and recovery operation at the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building on Saturday, July 3, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. (Maxar Technologies via AP) (Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies)

The timeline of a tragedy

Coverage of July 7

The search-and-rescue operation at Champlain Towers South shifted to a search-and-recovery mission Wednesday in Surfside.

Coverage of July 6

Workers walk past the collapsed and demolished Champlain Towers South condominium building, Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Coverage of July 5

Rescue workers handle a tarp containing recovered remains at the site of the collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building, Monday, July 5, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. The remaining structure was demolished Sunday, which partially collapsed June 24. Many people remain unaccounted for. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Coverage on July 4

FILE - In this late Sunday, July 4, 2021, file photo, the remaining structure of the Champlain Towers South condo building is demolished more than a week after it partially collapsed, in Surfside, Fla. Even as the search continues over a week later for signs of life in the mangled debris, the process of seeking answers about why it happened and who is to blame is already underway in Florida's legal system. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Coverage on July 3

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, and his wife Casey leave flags at a makeshift memorial near the Champlain Towers South condo building, where scores of victims remain missing more than a week after it partially collapsed, Saturday, July 3, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Coverage on July 2

FILE - In this Friday, July 2, 2021, file photo, search and rescue personnel remove remains on a stretcher as they work atop the rubble of the Champlain Tower South complex in Surfside, Fla. Nobody has been found alive since the first hours of the June 24 disaster that killed at least 27 people in the town of Surfside, so updating the families has so far been a matter of delivering bad news. And what crews are finding is often not intact. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Coverage on July 1

FILE - In this July 1, 2021, file photo President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit the Surfside Wall of Hope & Memorial in Surfside, Fla., for the people missing after the condo tower that collapsed earlier in the week. The Bidens spent the day meeting with first responders, local and government officials and visiting with families who have been impacted by the collapse. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Coverage on June 30

Search and rescue personnel work atop the rubble at the Champlain Towers South condo building, where scores of people remain missing almost a week after it partially collapsed, Wednesday, June 30, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Coverage on June 29

Search and rescue workers comb the rubble of an oceanfront condo building that collapsed, with many dead and unaccounted for, in Surfside, Fla., Tuesday, June 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Coverage on June 28

FILE - In this June 28, 2021, file photo, workers search the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside, Fla. Search and rescue teams from Miami-Dade have been described as among the best and most experienced in the world. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Coverage on June 27

This aerial image shows an oceanfront condo building that partially collapsed three days earlier, resulting in fatalities and many people still unaccounted for, in Surfside, Fla., Sunday, June 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Coverage on June 26

FILE - In this Saturday, June 26, 2021, file photo, rescue workers search in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo, in Surfside, Fla. Even as the search continues over a week later for signs of life in the mangled debris of the fallen Champlain Towers South, the process of seeking answers about why it happened and who is to blame is already underway in Florida's legal system. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Coverage on June 25

FILE - In this Friday, June 25, 2021, file photo, rescue personnel work in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo, in Surfside, Fla. Even as the search continues over a week later for signs of life in the mangled debris of the fallen Champlain Towers South, the process of seeking answers about why it happened and who is to blame is already underway in Florida's legal system. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Coverage on June 24

This photo taken from video provided by ReliableNewsMedia firefighters rescue a survivor from the rubble of the Champlain Towers South Condo after the multistory building partially collapsed in Surfside, Fla., early Thursday, June 24, 2021. (ReliableNewsMedia via AP).

About the Authors:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.