August 14th Structural Failures Found in Newspaper Archives - An Engineer's Aspect


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Friday, August 14, 2009

August 14th Structural Failures Found in Newspaper Archives

KC Tribune, The Jail Collapse and Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence, August 1863

Image: The Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas City [of which the author is a member] have placed this marker to commemorate the site of the jail collapse at Grand & I-670. Source: KC Tribune.

"In order to attempt control of bushwhackers, in early August Union forces rounded up female relatives of many known buswhackers and placed them in what proved to be an unsafe building at what is now 1425 Grand [the Sprint Center] in downtown Kansas City. Quantrill and his outlaw bushwhackers had been planning a surprise raid on the “most Union” town in Kansas for some time before these women were jailed in Kansas City.

On August 14, 1863, the building collapsed, killing at least four women and injuring many more. Several of the dead and injured were relatives of the leaders of Quantrill’s band—the Youngers and Bloody Bill Anderson. Naturally, this tragic event was added to the already established reasons for attacking Lawrence. Of course, the men, women and children of that Kansas town had nothing to do with the building collapse, but in the minds of the outlaw bushwhackers it was just one more reason to attack a hated town.

During the ensuing attack on Lawrence on August 18, 1863, Quantrill and his men killed approximately 150 men and boys. Some commentators make much of the fact that the bushwhackers killed no women. These sources usually omit the fact that dozens of women saw their husbands and sons literally executed before their eyes."

The Hamilton Daily Republican, Hamilton, Ohio, Wednesday Evening, August 15, 1894.

BUDA PESTH—Newhandels bank building collapsed August 14, 1894 burying 16 workmen. Five were severely injured. The others were feared dead.

Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, Nebraska, August 15, 1910.

El Paso, Texas-- W. E. ROBINSON, mayor of El Paso lost his life at 9 o'clock on August 14, 1910, while endeavoring to warn a number of firemen of imminent danger from a tottering wall. 
At the same time one fireman was instantly killed two other firemen were injured. The casualties followed a fire that broke out at 2 a.m. in the store of the Galisher Dry Goods company, and ruined it.
The fire had burned for nearly seven hours, and the unsafe condition of the wall so impressed Mayor ROBINSON, that he left the sidewalk and approached the building to instruct the firemen to stop their work. As he approached the building a large portion of the brick wall buckled and fell, crushing the two men, and knocking the other men down.

Source: GenDisasters.

Alton Evening Telegraph, Alton, Illinois, Monday, August 15, 1927.

The little bridge spanning Wood River on the road extending east from College Avenue, collapsed at 10 o'clock on Sunday, August 14, 1927, under stress of a little flood in the stream of Wood river.

The bridge was already slated to be replaced as it was quite old. The state highway engineers had a plan for taking a kink out of the course of the stream there and setting the bridge further east.

Blytheville Courier News, Blytheville, Arkansas, Saturday, August 16, 1936.

KIRKLAND LAKE, Ontario—Three men were trapped August 14, 1936, by a collapse of a tunnel 2,700 feet underground in the Lakeshore gold mine. On August 15, 1936, the three men were confirmed to be dead.

The Daily Mail, Hagerstown, MD., Saturday, August 14, 1937.

STATEN ISLAND, New York—A Staten Island tenement collapsed killing 20 people. The tenement had been converted from a factory and was 60-years-old.

A rush of water from a storm crumbled the old foundations.

Lubbock, (Texas), Evening Journal, Friday, August 15, 1952.

DALLAS, Texas—A steel bridge collapsed near Dallas late in the day of August 14, 1952. An automobile and a tank truck loaded with jet fuel plunged 40 feet into a creek bed when the structure buckled.

An occupant of the car received a broken foot and the truck driver was uninjured.

Investigators believe the bridge collapse was due to overloading.

The Lima News, Lima, Ohio, Friday, August 14, 1953.

Bridge Collapse Kills Trucker

COSHOCTON, Ohio--One man was killed when a 20-foot section of the Roscoe Bridge dropped out, plunging two vehicles into the Tuscarawas River.

The Coshocton Tribune, Coshocton, Ohio, Saturday Evening, August 15, 1953.

One man died of injuries suffered when the coal transport he was driving fell through the Tuscarawas river bridge on August 14, 1953. A passenger in the coal truck and four other people who were in another automobile were injured.

An official statement blamed the weight of passing vehicles for the collapse of the bridge. The statement also asserted that a small steel plate that was the key to the construction of steel truss bridges was cracked, causing the failure.

The bridge was built in 1911 and extensive repairs were done in 1940. On February 1, 1952, a similar incident occurred where the bridge flooring gave way.

The bridge was floored with four-inch creosoted timbers, covered with a thin mat of bituminous paving material.

Daily Herald, Utah County, Utah, Tuesday, August 15, 1961.

OTIS AFB, Massachusetts—A 30-foot section of grandstand containing about 100 people collapsed injuring 13 before the start of a semipro baseball game on the night of August 14, 1961.

The grandstand was made of reinforced steel tubing with wooden plank seats. The highest seat was about seven feet off the ground. Otis officials said the grandstand failure was due to overloading.

Only 4 people were hospitalized and their injuries were not serious.

The Lima News, Lima, Ohio, Monday, August 15, 1966.

CELINA—Twenty five people were injured when a section of the grandstand at the Mercer County Fairgrounds collapsed and the people crashed to the ground 10 feet below, the night of August 14, 1966.

The Victoria Advocate, Victoria, Texas, 77901, Thursday, August 15, 1968.

LUNDALE, West Virginia—Three miners were killed on August 14, 1968, when a 40-foot section of slate ceiling collapsed in the Amherst Coal Co. No. 1 mine.


COMPTON, California—A helicopter carrying passengers to Disneyland broke apart and plunged in pieces into a playground on August 14, 1968. The crash killed all 21 on board, including the grandson of the airline's president.

Image: N300Y departing the Disneyland Heliport five years prior to the accident flight. Source: Wikipedia.

According to Wikipedia,

"The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause of the accident as the fatigue failure of the yellow main rotor blade spindle, causing separation of the blade which made the aircraft uncontrollable. The fatigue crack originated in an area of substandard hardness and inadequate shot peening."

In the course of the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, they made the following findings:
  • The aircraft gross weight and center of gravity were within limits.
  • The crewmembers were qualified for the flight.
  • The yellow main rotor blade separated in flight rendering the aircraft uncontrollable.
  • Blade separation was due to fatigue failure of the spindle.
  • The fatigue crack was a high-cycle, low-stress type which propagated over a long period of time.
  • The crack initiated because of a combination of the following factors:
  • Metal hardness below specifications associated with a banded microstructure.
  • Improper peening of the base metal surface.
  • Possible detrimental effect of residual tensile stress from the plating.
  • Pitting which may have been present in the base metal surface.
It is believed that the crack was present at the last magnaglo inspection of the part, and it is not known why it was not detected.

The Sheboygan Press, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Friday, August 15, 1969.

APPLETON, Wisconsin--The side of a hill and retaining wall collapsed on Thursday, August 14, 1969, demolishing a section of an unfinished 12-unit apartment building. No one was injured.

Two apartment units were sheared off by the landslide. City inspectors said about half of the buildings would have to be reconstructed.

The Evening Standard, Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Monday, August 15, 1977.

REPUBLIC—On Sunday, August 14, 1977, the roof of a fire station addition collapsed injuring three Republic firemen who were helping build and addition.

It was reported that a workman was operating a backhoe inside the incomplete structure when wooden roof trusses fell down.

Chicago, Illinois--Rosemont Horizon Arena Timber Roof Collapse, August 14, 1979.

According to
"The Rosemont Horizon Arena was 90% completed when suddenly its wood roof frame collapsed, on Monday, August 14, 1979 in Chicago, Illinois. In the accident, five construction workers were killed and 16 others injured. The construction cost of the 20,000 seats sport complex was $ 8 million and the estimated damages caused by the collapse was $ 3 million.
At the time of the collapse, one third of the roof had been placed. The roof was to have been supported by 16 glue-laminated timber arches 6.1 feet deep and spanning 288 feet. The timber arches were made up of three separate pieces and erected in three different stages. Concrete columns at the ends supported them, and concrete buttresses bearing on underground thrust blocks braced 14 of the 16 arches. Timber was selected to diminish the noise produced by air traffic on the nearby Chicago's O'Hare Airport.

The arches were tied by 3.1 feet deep girders interspersed by sets of three purlins. Angle irons were supposed to hold the arches and girders together. The angles were connected to the arches with several bolts and to the girders with three bolts. During the construction stage, the supervising engineer approved the plan of leaving two of the three bolts out of the girder-arch connection in order to allow the timber elements to deform downward as much as possible under the purlins and deck loads before installing the other bolts. To compensate for the missing bolts the roof erector subcontractor designed steel plates that were supposed to connect temporarily the arches and girders with lag bolts.

A post-collapse investigation carried by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration revealed that the cause of the collapse was the unstable condition of the wood roof frame. Over 53 percent of the required connection bolts were missing from the building's roof. Of the 944 girder bolts required for the connections already installed, only 444 were in place. Of these, 338 had no nuts, and some of the nuts in place were only finger-tight. OSHA also discovered that only 27 percent of the "compensating steel plates" were properly installed. Although the missing bolts were found the triggering cause, it was proved that inadequate bracing and the stockpiling of materials in the roof contributed to the collapse. Several other violations were attributed to the roof erector, who was severely fined by OSHA. The project's architect and other subcontractors were also fined for diverse irregularities. Even the independent engineering firm retained by the city to investigate the collapse was fined by OSHA for unnecessarily exposure of their employees to fall hazards during field inspection.

In an interesting note, one year after the roof collapse, concrete stands under construction also collapsed at the Rosemont Horizon, dumping 34 tons of concrete to the ground. No fatalities or major injuries resulted from this accident."

The Titusville Herald, Titusville, Pennsylvania, Wednesday Morning, August 15, 1990.

CORAOPOLIS, Pennsylvania—A building under construction at the new Greater Pittsburgh International Airport terminal collapsed August 14, 1990, killing one man and seriously injuring another.

A supporting beam on the southeast side of the midfield terminal collapsed after a crane set a 2-foot-wide, 20-foot long concrete plank onto it.

The Frederick Post, Frederick, MD, Friday, August 15, 1997.

FORT DETRICK, Maryland—A steel roof collapsed August 14, 1997 at a construction site sending one man to the hospital with broken wrists and a broken elbow after falling about 20 feet.

He was welding a girder among six struts when the rafters collapsed and he fell.

Chandigarh Tribune Online Edition, Chandigarh, India, Thursday, August 15, 2002.

Image: The two-story building that collapsed in Hem Vihar Colony, Bartana, due to a heavy rain. Source: Chandigarh Tribune.

Panchkula, India-- On August 14, 2002 
a woman and her 17-year-old son were killed and another member of the family was injured in a roof collapse at Pinjore because of the continuous rain. The woman and her son were sleeping in their Rathpur Colony house when the roof caved in.

Daily Herald, Utah County, Utah, Wednesday, August 15, 2007.

BEIJING, China—A bridge that was under construction collapsed on the afternoon of August 14, 2007 leaving at least 29 people dead.

Workers just removed the scaffolding from the 140-foot-high, 880-foot-long vehicle and pedestrian bridge across the Tuo River in the southern town of Fenghuang.

Of the 12-man construction team working under the bridge, 2 survived.