COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WRIC) — On Sept. 25, the chimney of a house under renovation in Petersburg collapsed, trapping a man beneath the rubble for three hours before while crews raced against time to rescue him.
The collapse was reported at around 11 a.m. on Halifax Street, where workers were in the middle of a renovation. One of the construction workers became trapped in the basement as debris pinned one of legs.
Terry Schane, a Colonial Heights firefighter and paramedic with the Crater Regional Technical Rescue Team, said he trains ten months out of the year to prepare for rescues like this.
“That’s what we’re here for, is for the patient,” he said.
There were about ten first responders in the basement working to get the man out, Schane said.
“My initial reaction was kind of like ‘Wow, he’s in there, he survived.’ He got very lucky where he was pinned at,” he said.
When first responders arrived to the scene, Schane said he noticed the house had little structural support.
“On arrival, we found a lot of structural supports that weren’t place or weren’t keeping the house standing up very well,” he said. “We had to use all of our skills to create a safe area to tunnel to that patient.”
Schane said this call was unique because of they way they had to carefully maneuver the debris to remove the man from the rubble.
“Every move that you made, something else would move in its place, and you had to compensate for it,” he said. “You have that thought in the back of your mind, that this may be my last call.”
Crews used materials to lift the flooring up off of the man who was trapped. The man was rescued at around 3 p.m. and taken to a local hospital for treatment. After the man was rescued, crews remained at the house to stabilize the structure using lumber.
It’s not clear what caused the collapse, but Petersburg city officials confirmed to 8News that a repair permit application for the building was under review by the city, though it had not been issued by Code Compliance at the time of the incident.
Petersburg Property Maintenance sent a repair or demolish letter to the homeowner. After receiving the letter, the owner was required to provide the city with a structural engineering report for stabilization and repair — or apply for a demolition permit.
8News followed up with Petersburg City officials for about the repair or demolition letter sent to the homeowner, we have not yet received a response.