Hillside Motor Structural Failure--Nov. 16, 1973 - An Engineer's Aspect


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Monday, November 16, 2009

Hillside Motor Structural Failure--Nov. 16, 1973

The Frederick Post, Frederick, Maryland, Friday, November 16, 1973.

No Injuries Reported

Building Collapses At Evergreen Point

No one was injured Thursday afternoon when the walls of the Hillside Motor Corp. on Evergreen Point suddenly cracked and the open bay doors shattered.

"At the first sounds of the building settling, everybody ran outside. Thank God no one was injured," said Roy C. Romsburg, owner of the used car lot and state inspection center located along the east side of Rt. 85.

State police Trooper Paul Fagan estimated damage to the large two story cinder block structure in excess of $50,000. Police believe the cause was improper removal of dirt around the foundation walls on two sides of the building. Police said the excavation was being supervised by Ray Romsburg.

Romsburg said he had intended to add another building alongside the present structure and place a parking lot in front. The excavation along two sides of the building apparently undermined the foundation causing severe cracks along the north wall and forcing the west wall to separate from the rest of the building, police said.

Romsburg said he hopes to tear down the damaged part of the building saving the smaller portion which was mainly used as an office. The shop and the upstairs living quarters will be completely torn down. Workmen from the C. Edw. Winpigler Construction Company were using a large crane and sand bucket to peel back the roof and knock down the cracked walls.

"This may slow us down but its not going to stop us," Romsburg stated. "Just this morning I said how lucky we had been--no accidents; no trouble. We were doing real good. I don't believe the insurance will cover this." But Romsburg said he plans on staying open and remaining in business.

Romsburg, his wife and daughter and brother Ray C. Romsburg were at the scene late Thursday afternoon watching as a large crane lifted chunks of the building and carefully exposed the inner wall supporting the smaller building. The job was expected to be completed by late Thursday.

The United and Junior ambulance and rescue equipment and the Independent fire engine were called to the scene at 1:40 p.m. Once the danger of fire or explosion was lessened, only one ambulance remained on the scene as the front wall was demolished.

Potomac Edison cut electric power to the building shortly after 2 p.m. Just minutes after the power lines were dropped, a large section of the wall fell right where the lines had been hanging.

State Police ordered that blasting at the M.J. Grove Lime Company be halted while workmen were removing portions of the building. Workers first used the front crane roller to push in the damaged front wall which had slid off its footing. The brick veneer wall had separated from the other walls by about two feet at the bottom.

At least one car was parked inside the building when the walls cracked. A complete listing of damages was not available from police last night.