DAVENPORT, Iowa – Rescue efforts were underway Sunday evening after part of an apartment building collapsed in the eastern Iowa city of Davenport. Authorities have not said if anyone was killed.
Officials said people were treated for injuries at the scene, but did not say how many.
Rescuers were called to the scene just before 5pm on Sunday. Fire crews rescued seven people and removed more than a dozen people from the building in their initial response, Davenport Fire Chief Michael Carlston said at a news conference.
Carlston said the rear of the six-story apartment complex collapsed and separated from the building, which has apartments on the upper floors and businesses on the ground level.
Officials found a gas leak after the collapse, Carlston said, while water also seeped across the structure’s floors.
First responders were searching for the unaccounted for people Sunday. The stability of the building following secondary collapses was a concern while rescuers were on scene, Carlston said.
“Our focus right now is recovery,” Davenport Mayor Mike Madsen told a news conference.
“It’s an active scene. We’ll continue to work, continue to assess, and with full intent to try to find people and get them out,” said Madsen, who spoke with Gov. Kim Reynolds, who offered assistance.
The Davenport Police Department asked people to avoid the city after the wreck.
Carlston said the reunion area at St. Anthony Church on Main Street is served by Red Cross workers.
The reason for the decline was not immediately known.
Rich Oswald, director of development and neighborhood services for the city of Davenport, said at a news conference that he was working on the exterior of the building when it collapsed.
Reports of bricks falling from the building earlier this week were part of that work, and the building’s owner had permission for the project, Oswald said.
The Quad-City Times reported that Robert Robinson, who lives on the second floor, went out and came back after alarms went off in the building.
“When we started to go back the lights went out,” he told the newspaper. “Suddenly everyone started running out saying that the building had collapsed. I’m glad we got down.
Robinson and his girlfriend managed to get the elevator down in time, he said.
“It’s horrible,” he said. “We have nowhere to go. There is nothing to eat.
Tadd Machovec, a Davenport contractor, told the newspaper he was putting up a support beam inside the building when it collapsed.
Some residents of the area said that there was a problem in the building. “There have been many complaints from residents regarding the necessary repairs,” municipal officials said on Sunday.
Jennifer Smith, co-owner of Fourth Street Nutrition, said she learned about the outbreak from her husband, who works for Mid-American Energy.
“He was on call and was called for a building explosion downtown. We didn’t know it was our building,” he said. “It sounds bad, but we’ve been calling the city and filing complaints since December. Our bathroom collapsed in December.
Smith said water damage has been apparent since they moved into their place in the winter. Company co-owner Deonte Mack said fire crews remained in the building as of Thursday investigating.
“The tenants told us the building was going to collapse,” Smith said.
The Quad-City Times reports that the building is owned by Andrew Wold. Wold’s work phone number was not immediately available Sunday night, and efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.
Nearly 20 permits were filed in 2022 for building repairs, mainly for plumbing or electrical problems, according to the county assessor’s office.