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10 story tower get imploded in Fort Lauderdale

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Going ... gone! 10-story building is imploded in Fort Lauderdale

By Peter Bernard

Staff Writer

May 17, 2004

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Some people got up early Sunday to watch the scheduled destruction of the gutted, 10-story structure once known as the NCNB Building at Northeast 15th Avenue and East Sunrise Boulevard.

Others stayed up all night.

"There was about 14, 15 of us who were out all night for a bachelor party," said Hallandale Beach resident Sean Weeks. "A building blowing up just kind of brings it all together."

The hundreds who gathered to witness the 7 a.m. detonation weren't disappointed. A series of 11 loud, sharp blasts tore through the quiet Sunday morning air. For a fraction of a second, all was still, the building standing intact for a moment before collapsing on itself, sending spectators to the west of the structure fleeing a racing cloud of dust.

But for hundreds of South Florida firefighters and rescue personnel, Sunday's blast wasn't all smoke and fury. Many received their first chance to train in an environment that closely simulates a terrorist attack.

Mike Conley drove in from Coral Springs with his two sons, Ryan, 11, and Tyler, 8, to get a look at the building's demise.

"It was kind of spooky," Conley said. "One minute it's a nice, sunny day, and then this dust cloud passes over your head and it's like dusk. I guess it's a little glimpse of what it must have been like when the World Trade Center collapsed."

The implosion was a success, according to Jim Redyke, the president of Dykon Inc., a Tulsa, Okla.-based business that specializes in explosive demolitions.

"All in all it went real well," Redyke said. "I'm pleased."

Redyke said just under 50 pounds of explosives were used to take down the building, which will make way for the parking lot of a Publix supermarket scheduled to open in November. The linear, shaped charges are an explosive designed by NASA for the separation of rocket booster stages.

"This is the first time we've ever blown up a building for site development, and I think it went very well," said real estate developer Terry Stiles, who watched the blast and collapse from a nearby platform. Stiles is building the Publix.

As soon as technicians checked the building for unexploded ordnance, the crumbled remains became a training ground for hundreds of South Florida firefighters from multiple agencies. Stiles granted permission to a number of fire-rescue agencies to use the site for training until the rubble is hauled away early this week.

About an hour after the explosion, a firefighter walked up to a junked automobile intentionally left in the path of the falling building, throwing a lighted flare into the car. Within minutes, the car was engulfed in flames, and the drill began as a radio call that a car packed with explosives rammed into the building, causing it to collapse.

Fort Lauderdale firefighters doused the blazing car and set up braces and other gear to shore up rubble and search for "victims," dummies prepositioned in the building with thermal and infrared sensors.

Taking part were firefighters and rescue personnel from several agencies, including 100 Fort Lauderdale firefighters, 100 Miami firefighters, and 65 members of the federal Urban Search and Rescue Team. Technical Rescue and Haz/Mat teams from Hollywood, Sunrise and the Broward County Sheriff's Office are also participating in practice drills today.

Rescuers today will continue practicing hazardous material situations and victim rescue. Some of the latest technology in the field of technical rescue will be used at the site, including $100,000 thermal-imaging cameras to search the rubble for survivors and $50,000 instruments to test the air for dangerous chemicals.

"A multiagency drill like this is a rare opportunity and a chance for us to see what our strengths and weaknesses are, should there ever be a real disaster on this scale," said Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Christopher Weir. "Communication and cooperation is what we're hoping to achieve here."

Peter Bernard can be reached at [email protected] or 954-356-4525.

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I saw it on an early-evening News program in Sydney. Great.

The news here often airs U.S. implosions as we don't have them here in Oz.

(exceept in non-populated areas). About 3 weeks ago it was a U.S. baseball stadium.

My concern would be cancer-causing asbestos being dispersed. Did the U.S. use asbestos too for insulation in its buildings during the 50s and 60s? If so, I guess they would do the necessary tests beforehand. I can't see a specific date for the Fort Lauderdale building.

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