Building official was on roof of Surfside condominium only hours before collapse


Rescue crews continue to search for survivors despite a fire within the rubble hampering their efforts, the mayor of Miami-Dade County said. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

(NEXSTAR) – The building official for Surfside, Florida, said he was on the roof of Champlain Towers South only 14 hours before it collapsed on Thursday.

Jim McGuinness said at an emergency meeting on Friday that he was inspecting work on the building’s roof anchors, which are used by window cleaning crews, the Palm Beach Post reported. McGuinness added that he saw nothing of concern at the time, nor any “inordinate amount of equipment” that might have raised any red flags.

In the aftermath of the collapse, however, he does believe Thursday’s tragedy will change the inspection processes and building codes throughout the county, if not the country.

“Hurricane Andrew changed the Florida building codes forever, so this terrible tragedy, which is a national tragedy, is going to change the building codes as they relate to certification,” said McGuinness, the Post reported.

Rescue workers are still searching for any signs of survivors at the scene of the collapse despite a fire burning in the rubble, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a news briefing on Saturday morning. So far, no additional survivors had been located since the previous briefing. In total, 127 people have been accounted for, 159 are still unaccounted for, and 4 have been confirmed dead.

The mayor added at Saturday’s briefing that buildings over 40 years old in Miami-Dade will be audited within the next 30 days, and be required to undergo a recertification process.

As of Saturday morning, 127 people have been accounted for, 159 are still unaccounted for, and 4 have been confirmed dead following the collapse. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Third-party engineers are presently required to inspect buildings older than 40 years in Miami-Dade. At Friday’s emergency meeting, McGuinness said the south tower had just undergone such an inspection, though the results had not been released to the town, the Post reported.

An engineering report from 2018, meanwhile, showed that the oceanfront condominium building showed “major structural damage” to a concrete structural slab below its pool deck, though it’s unclear if this particular damage contributed to Thursday’s collapse, the Associated Press reported.

The cause of the collapse is still undetermined, but a “full and thorough” investigation from federal, state and local investigators is ongoing, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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