When multiple stories of a Denver building collapsed during a deconstruction, the contractor knew it was happening.
"I could feel the building, I saw the wind start to gust it, take it, that's when we threw up and told everybody to shut the traffic down and I backed out of the way," said Jim Gochis, owner of Alpine Demolition. "We were about an hour and a half away from having it come down the way the rest of the building did."
Because of how the building did come down, the city of Denver wants to suspend the ability for Alpine Demolition to get permits in the city for six months and prevent Gochis from getting permits for one year.
In an interview for Next, he told 9NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger why he didn't do anything wrong.
"Did you go to work that day saying, 'we're toppling this building and letting it collapse multiple stories at a time?" asked Zelinger.
"Nope. No," said Gochis.
"How do you convince the city, 'even though I didn't go to work that day and expect this to happen, the fact that it did happen, should be OK?'"
"I didn't say it was OK. I think what we should do, I wish the city would have came up and said, 'what did we learn from this?' We learned that the biggest thing is you better have a backup plan and you better be ready for something that's going to happen," said Gochis.
In the city's suspension notice to Gochis and Alpine Demolition, the city wrote:
"…the collapse violated the Building Code and displayed an alarming disregard for Worker Safety, Public Safety, Traffic Safety, Environmental Safety and was an overwhelming deviation from the required closures and the engineered demolition plan."
"We realized that this could happen. That's why we put additional spotters and flaggers out, to halt the public if it came down earlier than what we anticipated," said Gochis. "We had, I think, eight people that were going to watch out for the public and stop traffic if need be, and we did."
The city has previously told Next that a building that came down like that would have required permits for road closures and environmental issues, like dust.
"It wasn't like this was a dynamite or implosion or anything," said Gochis. "It still came down the way basically, not necessarily the way we wanted it, but it came down pretty close."
When asked if any workers were in danger, Gochis said none were.
"I would have been the closest one because I was the one running the high excavator and I was way out of the way. I could see it coming. I grabbed the beam, I backed up. I was literally, completely out of the way and I could see it come down," said Gochis. "If I had to do it again that morning, if I knew the wind was going to be there, I wouldn't have started it. Once you start it, you're pretty much committed."
Gochis is appealing the city's suspension notice.
Questions we're still waiting to get answers to:
- If you're deconstructing a building correctly, should wind be able to blow it over?
- If Gochis knew that a collapse was possible and planned for it, what notification was required for the city?
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