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Inspector ordered crews out of Meriden building just hours before it collapsed

A building inspector said the structure was too unsafe, forcing crews on site renovating the abandoned building to leave three hours before the roof caved in.

MERIDEN, Conn. — Crews are thankful no one was injured after a building partially collapsed on Broad Street in Meriden Wednesday evening.

That building was torn down to prevent any damage to nearby homes. Now the long process starts to pick up the pieces.

But it's the timing that saved lives. 

"The wall on that side was unstable as it was on this side," said Meriden Fire Chief, Ken Morgan, standing in front of a pile of pieces of the building.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Meriden building torn down after roof collapses

The building collapsed just three hours after a building inspector ordered the crew on site renovating the building to leave, saying the structure was too unsafe.

"The building was not secure and three hours later the roof collapsed and everything went down," said Jose Cusnia, the building's owner. 

Had it not been for the inspector, crews would have still been inside when the roof caved in. 

"Not even a car, nothing got damaged, no person was injured so that was a good thing," said Cusnia. 

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The building has been abandoned for 12 years but was bought just three months ago by Cusnia who planned to build new apartments. 

"We knew it was in really bad condition so we were trying to fix it," said Cusnia. 

Morgan said when the building partially collapsed, the risk of it damaging the apartment homes just feet away was that much greater. 

"The gas meters were all on that side so that was a big concern for us, obviously we were concerned about the residents in there as well," said Morgan. 

For the demolition team, the process of safely taking down the rest of the building was slow and steady. 

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"It was very challenging, it was night time and you had the north and south wall, they started to bow out," said Joseph Carabetta, the owner of the demolition company, J&J Brothers. "We didn’t want to damage a perfect building like this." 

Nearby residents were evacuated to the fire department until they could return to their homes Wednesday night. 

Chief Morgan said the city is already assessing other abandoned buildings to make sure something like this doesn't happen again. 

"To have an inventory of the buildings and the condition they are in is always a plus for us," said Morgan. 

The plan from here is to build a new apartment complex from the ground up.

Crews will continue to be on scene on Broad Street to clean up the remaining debris.

Lindsey Kane is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at Lkane@fox61.com. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram


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