ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The constant crumbling of brick and commotion along the sidewalk is normal in downtown Abilene, as the old Abilene Reporter News building was demolished in the past two months, but a strong detonation around 2 p.m. Wednesday had shoppers and business owners wondering what went wrong.
Betty & June sales associate Hailey Garthwaite shared that the rumbling sound could have been mistaken for something much more serious.
“If I hadn’t known the protest was happening, I probably would have thought a bomb had gone off,” Garthwaite said.
For Michaela Brandon, owner of Golden Girls Day Spa, this incident made quite the scene.
“There was a huge cloud of dust. You couldn’t see it for a few seconds. It was kind of scary. You didn’t know what was going on, but you knew it wasn’t good,” Brandon recalled.
According to Abilene Fire Chief Cande Flores, the last standing walls of the building spilled into North 2nd Street when a support beam backfired, sending bricks and debris towards pedestrians and vehicles on the opposite sidewalk.
“As they started tearing off the easternmost corner, they were keeping tension on one of the main beams. Either it slipped or that tension released in some other way and that’s which sent it back north and that’s what caused that wall to collapse,” Flores explained.
Although unhappy, Flores is grateful that no injuries or major damage occurred during the collapse. A fact for which he thanks the demolition team, as appropriate security measures were in place.
“I purely think it was just something they didn’t plan for and I don’t think it was negligence at all,” Flores said.
Company owner Trey Yarbrough said the safety of people around the area was his first concern, followed by a push to get the road cleared and the remaining walls demolished as quickly as possible.
“The exterior of this building was a lot less solid than we originally thought and hats off to the city for going ahead and having this building demolished. It looks like it would have been an issue in the future anyway. ”, explained Yarbrough.
While some cars parked along North 2nd Street sustained minor damage from debris, all were reported as drivable and no pedestrians were injured, which people feared when the collapse unfolded produced for the first time.
“There were several reports, people thought there was a possible explosion. Someone said they thought an asteroid had hit the street and so, I think, really nobody knew what was going on. going on until they let the dust settle,” Flores explained.
The demolition team worked in tandem with the municipal authorities, APD and AFD to clear the road. Pine Street and North 2nd Street are open and ready for transport starting Wednesday evening.