Champlain Towers South Collapse

The eastern wing of Champlain Tower South collapsed unexpectedly at 1:25 AM on June 24, 2021. Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue (MDFR) immediately responded to rescue survivors in the standing portions of the structure, while also searching for survivors in the debris. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and National Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) task forces from all over the country arrived on site, as did agencies from other nations, to help search for more than 100 unaccounted for persons.

Hanging debris and the uncertain stability of the remaining structure caused FEMA structural engineers to keep search and rescue personnel away from the standing structure, limiting their search to half the footprint of the collapsed area. As hours passed, it was obvious to all that the threat of the standing structure needed to be removed.

CDI arrived on site just hours after being called in by the State of Florida on July 1, 2021. The structural situation was surveyed, and CDI advised the State of Florida and MDFR representatives that the structure could be felled safely without compromising the historic debris field or putting CDI personnel at unnecessary risk.  

A seven (7) person CDI crew worked on the Basement and Lobby levels, drilling and loading the structure for explosives felling, while The BG Group of Delray Beach, Florida, helped to prepare and place protective cover on the structure to prevent fly of debris in only 18 working hours.

The debris from the original collapse was covered with geotextile fabric to facilitate post demolition identification of any new debris that could be removed quickly versus that debris that required further searching and investigation. The structure was brought to grade at 10:30 PM on July 4th.

CDI placed 128 lbs. of explosives at 165 locations in columns and shear walls at the Basement and Lobby levels. The structure was rolled away from the historic debris pile and felled vertically without putting any debris on Collins Avenue or risking continuity of utilities just below the surface that served the City of Surfside and adjacent communities.

US&R teams were able to recommence their search and rescue efforts, with safe access to the entire debris footprint within an hour of CDI’s explosive operations.