Crane remains a concern

Kingston Mayor Mark Gerretsen and Kingston Fire and Rescue Chief Rheaume Chaput speak at a media...

Kingston Mayor Mark Gerretsen and Kingston Fire and Rescue Chief Rheaume Chaput speak at a media conference on Thursday December 19 2013 near the scene of a massive fire which took place Tuesday. IAN MACALPINE/KINGSTON WHIG-STANDARD/QMI AGENCY

Ian MacAlpine, Kingston Whig-Standard

, Last Updated: 11:18 PM ET

The charred crane that sits over the site of Tuesday's massive fire in midtown Kingston will stay up for at least a few more days.

Kingston's Mayor Mark Gerretsen and Fire and Rescue Chief Rheaume Chaput made the announcement at an afternoon press conference on Thursday.

That is unless Mother Nature or other factors work together to knock it down sooner.

The city's mayor and fire chief were briefing the media on Victoria Street with the blackened crane standing in the background, about 48 hours after the fire that destroyed a housing complex that was under construction.

Gerretsen said there's two phases involved in the removal of the crane; first the city will remove vehicles, snow and ice on the road around the fire scene.

The heavy equipment has to be on stable ground so all ice and snow has to be removed, said Gerretsen.

The second phase will be the responsibility of the property owner, Patry Inc. Developments, to remove the crane, he said. That phase involves bringing in the heavy equipment to do the job.

“The property owner has been required to develop a plan and submit that plan, in conjunction with engineers, to the Ministry of Labour for approval by the end of (Thursday),” said Gerretsen.

The mayor said the property owner and ministry will be working throughout the night on the plan.

Gerretsen said weather may play a factor in the timeline for the removal of the crane.

“We're expecting some freezing rain (Thursday) and (Friday) which may impact this as well as other factors.”

Gerretsen and Chaput couldn't be pinned down on an exact timeline as to when the crane will be removed.

“We're looking at a few days,” said Gerretsen. “We're working as quickly as we can to get this crane down but ultimately it's the responsibility of the property owner in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour.”

“I'm optimistic that it'll be as soon as possible,” said Chaput. “It could be as soon as two or three days, it could be longer, it depends on weather, depends on the Ministry of Labour. I'm not in position to say one day or five days.”

Chaput, who estimates the damage to the five-storey, 144-unit building and surrounding structures is in the $20 million to $30 million range, said the crane is somewhat secure.

“We've been monitoring it closely and it remains stable at this point but it is weakened and it has been damaged and we don't want to take any chances.”

People who live closest to the fire scene remain unable to return to their homes. Businesses in the area also remain closed, Gerretsen said.

“Nothing has changed with respect to the evacuation zone,” he said.

Gerretsen estimated a few dozen people are affected by the evacuation. Many have found shelter with family and friends and others are being put up in area hotels by the city.

“People who live in that area can't return to their homes until the crane behind us has been removed.”

In the press conference Gerretsen thanked residents and businesses in the affected area for their patience.

He said all power has been restored except in the red zone, the closest area to the crane.

“Any power that is off right now won't be restored until the crane is removed,” he said.

Gerretsen said he didn't think that the expected freezing rain would cause the crane to topple.

“I'm not an engineer but I would say in my uneducated opinion the threat probably is more to do with high wind than with snow or rain per se.”

ian.macalpine@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/IanMacAlpine

 


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