HIALEAH, FLA. (WSVN) – Officials have deemed an apartment building in Hialeah unsafe after a ceiling collapsed, and it’s raising questions on how this building could have passed its re-certification inspection.
Residents at the building at West 23rd Street and Palm Avenue were evacuated, Monday afternoon, and crews have begun the clean up process.
7Skyforce hovered over the scene of the damage where the ceiling under a second floor walkway fell, just after 10 a.m.
“Thank God there were no fatalities, no one got hurt, that was a big deal for us,” said Hialeah Councilman Jesus Tundidor. “However, our building department deemed this unsafe and evacuated everyone.”
Fire officials will be at the building until they have a better un
Sujey Alfaro and her husband were not home when this happened, but firefighters immediately appeared on her Ring camera.
“You see that on the news, not thinking that this could happen to you,” she said.
“Once you get here you’re relieved that it was only part of a building where there was nobody there,” said Hialeah Fire Department Chief Williams Guerra, “obviously don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
“At this moment, our fire department, our building official, they are assessing the property,” said Tundidor. “The owner of the property just got on site as well, so they’re talking to them about the situation that happened, how to move forward, but most importantly, what to do with these tenants that are going to be displaced.”
The Red Cross along with crisis intervention teams were also at the scene talking to residents, as now they have to search for a new place to live.
In Spanish, resident Maria Hernandez told 7News, “Thank God we were outside of the apartment.”
Tenant Mariela Campos told 7News in Spanish, she had seen a crack going along the wall, recorded it and thought the roof would fall. She also said when she had gone into her apartment she heard a big sound and thought something fell, so she grabbed her dog and ran out of the building.
Hialeah Mayor Esteban Bovo Jr. told 7News the building is 60 years old and had just passed its 40-year re-certification in 2018.
Although Bovo now doesn’t know if the inspection was thorough enough.
“There was damage to the building, hairline fracture is the best I can describe them,” said Bovo. “There was some wear and tear, exposed rebar. You can put lipstick on a pig and clean it up as quickly as possible but the reality is needs to be– ugh, you know maybe it needs to be more in depth.”
“Obviously something went wrong here, and that’s what we’re going to be investigating,” said Tundidor.
Officials said they plan on reviewing all of the documents to try to figure out why part of the hallway gave way.
“It’s plausible that these things were there and who knows, you know, what conversations happened,” said Bovo. “The reality is, though, that we now have a building that we have to condemn, and it’s going to take a lot longer than three months to get it fixed.”
The owner of the building said he bought it toward the end of 2020.
He said they did their own inspection and found plumbing issues, which he fixed.
Hernandez said that the issue was preventable.
Authorities have let residents enter the building to collect some belongings, as 16 families are now trying to figure out what they’re going to do.
Alfaro said the Red Cross gave her a gift card for $500 for a place to stay. She also received a Fresco y MAs gift card for $250.
But as for their homes, these families don’t have those answers yet.
“Someone is going to contact us,” she said. “They gave us a case number, but we don’t know anything else. What’s the next step.”
The owner said he will meet with city officials on Tuesday.
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