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Building wall collapse injures one in Astoria

U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration and city Department of Buildings workers survey the damage at the site of a partial building facade collapse in Astoria. Photo by Karen Frantz
TimesLedger Newspapers

A full stop work order and two ECB violations were issued against a three-story building in Astoria that partially collapsed during reconstruction work Monday, causing the injury of a construction worker, according to the city Department of Buildings and police.

A DOB spokeswoman said the full stop work order was put into place as a result of the collapse and that one of the violations was issued for failure to safeguard and the other for no approved plans at the job site.

She said in meantime a sidewalk shed has been put into place and the DOB continues to investigate.

The construction worker suffered from a laceration on his head and was not seriously injured, police said.

Elias Rizos, who knows the building owner, said several stones from the facade fell when workers renovating the space to make way for a frozen yogurt shop exposed a rusty beam.

He said the damage was not serious and the building was structurally sound.

“The building is safe,” he said. “You see the columns are there, the beams are there.”

He seemed perplexed by a crowd that had gathered around the scene, which was roped off by police tape.

“The people are making a big deal for no reason,” he said.

The owner of the building, at 31-19 30th Ave., is listed as Fertitta Produce, Inc., and the building is holds a mix of commercial and office units.

Rizos said the owner was there when part of the facade collapsed.

Police officers, a U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration worker and a DOB emergency response worker were on the scene Monday afternoon a few hours after the incident.

The manager of a Dunkin’ Donuts next door to the building was among those people who had gathered to watch the activity.

Luna Akhter said she had been working when a portion of the facade went down. She said she did not hear much, but saw a commotion outside.

“I saw some smoke in there,” she said.

She was eventually told by firefighters to evacuate the building and had been standing around waiting to get back in since.

Akhter said the building next door had been undergoing renovations for the last two or three weeks and there had been no problems until Monday.

She said she was not worried about her own building.

“Our store doesn’t have any problem,” she said.

Rizos said he did not expect the displacement of the next-door neighbors to last much longer than a few hours.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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