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Downtown Virginia Building Under Demolition Collapses; Leads to Gas Leak

Updated: October 23, 2019 11:02 PM

Some downtown Virginia businesses were evacuated Wednesday morning due to a gas leak. 

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According to Virginia Fire Department Battalion Chief Erik Jonassen, authorities responded to a partial wall collapse at the former Northland Office Building.

"Before there was still a big section, and then today they had the streets blocked off, and all of a sudden there was a big part of it gone," said Tim Paige of Virginia.

"It was so violent, and it just went so quick. It was just boom," said James Collins of Virginia who witnessed the partial wall collapse. "The entire roof just collapsed down. This wall that was on the south side actually fell into the rubble, the wall that was on the north side fell into local businesses," he added. 

The downed wall hit the buildings of two downtown businesses; Pep’s Bakery and Rock’s Jewelers. 

"It damaged a roof, causing a partial collapse on the rear of the structure," said Jonassen referring to the damage done to Rock's Jewelers.

The owner of Rock's Jewelers, Jim Paulsen tells WDIO News he estimates there is about $100,000 worth of damage. Jonassen says crews also had to stabilize the building to make sure there was no further damage to it. 

Jonassen says Pep's Bake Shop sustained damage to the masonry wall that was facing the alley, as well as damage to a large glass block window.

The collapse also caused a gas leak, and severed power lines nearby. A transformer adjacent to the building was damaged. Jonassen says approximately 125 people had to be evacuated from the new government center, Pep's Bake Shop, Rock's Jewelers, and the Post Office.

"A large portion of the downtown area lost power, telecommunications were severed. There was a one inch line that had been cut. Public utilities came and shut down gas to the entire block until repairs could be made to the line itself," said Jonassen.

No injuries have been reported. The Northland Office Building is being demolished to make way for parking for the nearby county office building, which just recently opened.

“We are thankful for the quick response by all involved – the Virginia Fire and Police Departments, as well as our staff,” said County Administrator Kevin Gray. “Everyone moved quickly to ensure safety for all.”

Virginia EMS and Fire/Rescue team responded to the incident. 

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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