At least three construction cranes collapsed onto buildings in South Florida as Hurricane Irma brought deadly winds into the peninsula on Sunday.
Before the storm, the city of Miami had warned of the dangers of the tower cranes dotting the Miami skyline — some 20 to 25 across the city.
The cranes are designed to withstand winds of up to 145 mph. Officials urged anyone living near one to evacuate if Irma hit as a Category 5 hurricane.
A crane’s arm is not tied down but remains loose, the deputy director of the Building Department, Maurice Pons, had said. And its heavy counterbalance could cause severe damage in the event of a collapse.
Construction sites throughout the city were being locked down ahead of the storm, and even though the storm arrived with less power than Category 5, it did knock some cranes down.
One crane collapsed on top of a high-rise under construction at 300 Biscayne Boulevard, City of Miami officials tweeted.
City of Miami fire officials said crews couldn't mobilize to address the cranes until the winds calmed down.
"We’ve had our public works department get in contact with the contractors so they can be prepared to respond with their personnel to quickly secure it and then remove it," Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Caroll told NBC 6. "But our biggest concern is with the wind that is still pretty active, we want to make sure that the surrounding area is clear because we have some residential homes in the are of one of the cranes and we also had some people who sheltered in place during the storm in Downtown Miami that’s our biggest concern."
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City officials said they were using geo-fencing, a 911 communication system, as well as social media, to contact residents in the area. Anyone in a building in the area of Northeast 3rd Street and Biscayne Boulevard was urged to stay in the building but away from any wall or window facing the crane.
The city has contacted the contractor and OSHA, and said building officials will assist OSHA "in any way possible."
A second crane collapse was later reported at the Gran Paraiso development, under construction on Northeast 30th Terrace.
In Fort Lauderdale, a third crane collapsed at Auberge Beach Residences and Spa on North Ocean Boulevard around 5 p.m. Sunday. A second crane at the site is still intact, Fort Lauderdale police said.