A four-story residential and commercial building collapsed in a cloud of debris on Sunday in Brooklyn, temporarily trapping a young girl in an adjacent structure but causing no serious injuries, city officials said.
The building, at 493 Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill, fell shortly before 2 p.m., leaving a pile of rubble and a wall of scaffolding from work that was being done to repair cracks in the building’s exterior wall, according to city officials and the building’s owner, William Sang.
A bar and lounge called the Vesper on the first floor was closed at the time, and while there were people in the building moments before the collapse, all of the residents of the upstairs apartments were accounted for, officials said. A man in his mid-30s was treated at Brooklyn Hospital Center for bruises on his arm, and three other people refused medical attention, the Fire Department said. The young girl who was temporarily trapped was unharmed, officials said.
Emergency crews continued to search through the debris in the afternoon, while inspectors with the city’s Buildings Department were examining the integrity of buildings on both sides of the fallen structure. The Buildings Department issued vacate orders for six buildings on the block, said Tony Sclafani, a spokesman for the department.
City Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents the district, said a four-story building at 491 Myrtle Avenue, which was attached to the fallen building and suffered significant damage, would have to be demolished.
It is “definitely going to have to be taken down,” Ms. James said.
Fire crews were already on their way to 493 Myrtle Avenue after receiving reports of falling bricks, she said. They arrived seconds before the collapse.
“If any of the men had gone in, it would have been a Father’s Day disaster,” Ms. James said.
About 14 people lived in the two buildings, Mr. Sang and residents said.
The fallen building had several active violations, including one issued May 1 after complaints from tenants of shaking and vibrations, and another for working without a proper permit. An inspector noted at the time vertical cracks running from the ground floor to the roof level. The inspection also found cracks in the interior on the third and fourth floors, according to Buildings Department records.
A hearing on the violation had been scheduled for Monday, but Mr. Sang, the building’s owner, said it had been postponed until later in the summer to give him time to fix the problems.
Mr. Sang, who said he bought the building in 2006, said that the crack had been there for 10 years and that when the Buildings Department inspected it a month ago, “they said there was a crack but that it was O.K. to have tenants.”
Jose Diaz, who lived there for eight years before moving to 491 Myrtle, said, “The whole thing always shook. It always had many cracks in the wall.”
Mr. Diaz’s wife, Carolyn Diaz, said that even in the building next door they could feel the shaking. “I’m just glad it happened when we could get out.”
Anh Nguyen, 28, who lived in the building that collapsed, said that workers had been “mending the crack in the wall for several weeks.” Mr. Nguyen, a Web developer, briefly left his apartment and returned to find the building destroyed. “I’m still in shock,” he said. “It’s not going to hit me that I’ve lost everything right away.”
Next door, at 491 Myrtle, Sheila Nunez and her family were in their fourth-floor apartment when her bedroom wall sheared off. “I told the kids to run,” she said. Her husband, Jose Nunez, said, “You couldn’t see anything. Everything was full of smoke.”
The Nunezes’ daughter, Caitlyn, 10, who had been in the shower, lingered in the ground-floor hall to dress as the rest of the family escaped to the street. Seconds later, tumbling debris blocked the door to 491 with Caitlyn still inside. “My daughter was stuck in the hallway,” Ms. Nunez said. But firefighters shifted the debris, which included an awning for a fish market so that Caitlyn could escape.