HEALTH and safety watchdogs have launched an investigation into the dramatic collapse of part of a building in Sheffield city centre.
Witnesses said it was a ‘miracle’ no one was killed after a section of roof gave way at flats on Broad Lane, causing the top floor to collapse on to the ground floor.
Residents – the majority of whom are students – were forced to flee after bricks and building materials began falling around them. One man was trapped in the rubble but managed to free himself before fire crews arrived.
He and a woman were taken to Northern General Hospital, while around 30 people were checked by paramedics at the scene.
A gaping hole was left in the middle of the terraced row, the former home of Butler’s Balti House.
Health and Safety Executive inspectors were called out and a spokesman has confirmed an official investigation had been launched.
Dylan Wang, aged 29, who runs Rong Zheng Retail Ltd, a shop below the flats, said: “I live above my shop. My staff heard this huge crash very suddenly and called me. Everything was smashed.
“I can’t get anywhere near my shop to see the damage which has been caused but it will probably be closed for weeks.
“It is a miracle no one was killed or seriously hurt. Somebody must be to blame for this.”
A shocked onlooker said: “I can hardly believe anyone has survived that – they have all been very fortunate.”
Around 30 firefighters attended the incident at 2.30pm on Saturday, which is believed to have been caused by the removal of a supporting wall.
An interpreter was also present as a large proportion of the students living in the accommodation above are from overseas.
Station manager Ian French said: “Our report was of a structural collapse.
“It did look very dramatic.
“The first crew secured the scene, we did have a report of a person trapped but he’d managed to get himself out.
“We used a camera to make sure that there was no one left inside the property so that everyone was accounted for.”
Emergency accommodation was organised by Sheffield Homes for students unable to stay with friends or relatives, while Sheffield Council cordoned off the site and the building was demolished.
David Owens, of the council’s emergency planning separtment said: “Our dangerous structures team advised the fire brigade on shoring up the building, as it was not safe to go inside.
“We called in a company who secured the site on Saturday night.”
He said the building was demolished after the HSE carried out its investigation.
Mr Owens added work was being done with neighbouring residents to make sure they are safe from any potential falling debris.
Coun Jack Scott, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for environment and street scene, said: “It is a miracle no one was seriously injured.
“Re-homing the occupants who were living in this building is our key priority.
“We will also be working with businesses affected by this collapse.”