Update 5:20 p.m.:
According to city Public Works spokeswoman Julie Gilbert, the City of Houston Building Code Enforcement does not issue permits or perform inspections on scaffolding or staging used at construction sites. She said the means and methods for construction are under the contractor's control. In this case, the contractor is Finger Construction, which purchased a building permit for the seven-story apartment building and eight-tier parking garage in December 2013.
Officials fear some construction workers may still be trapped after a scaffolding collapsed downtown late Friday morning near Minute Maid Park.
The Houston Fire Department reports that some 30 rescue units were sent out to the corner of Crawford and Congress, where a large scaffolding collapsed at about 11:10 a.m. Friday. The scaffolding appears to be tied to construction of a large apartment complex that's going up across the street from Minute Maid Park. It's unclear how many workers were involved in the accident or what caused the scaffolding to collapse.
HFD reports that so far six construction workers have been sent to nearby hospitals with non-life threatening injuries. On the scene, officials said they fear more workers could be trapped beneath the tangled pile of wood and metal beams. Officials also fear the rubble could shift and trigger a secondary collapse.
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"Any time you have a collapse, a secondary collapse is not only possible but highly likely," HFD spokesman Capt. Ruy Lozano told the Houston Press on scene.
Julio Zavala, a construction worker on the project, told the Press he was some 30 feet away in a nearby garage when he heard the collapse. When he ran out to the scene, he heard a man yelling for help. Zavala said the man was trapped, bleeding from the head and appeared to have a broken arm. Zavala says he helped pull the man from the rubble. More workers, Zavala says, jumped through windows into the under-construction apartment building to avoid falling with the debris.
Officials say they're still searching for victims who may be trapped beneath the rubble. Officials don't yet know if any pedestrians were injured in the collapse.