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Wood Rot Likely Behind Balcony Collapse in California

Erin King1 year ago

In recent news, officials have released a statement concerning the balcony collapse that claimed the lives of six students earlier this month in California; they believe the cause of the incident to be wood rot in the balcony’s foundational material.

About the Balcony Collapse

Officials in Berkley, California have released a statement that claims that the cause for the balcony collapse that occurred earlier this month was most likely wood rot caused by excessive exposure to moisture; multiple experts support this claim. Regardless of the finding, however, experts still believe that the fourth-floor balcony should have been able to support the 13 individuals, under normal circumstances. 

Most of the 13 individuals were Irish students working in the San Francisco Bay Area for the summer on temporary visas.  When the balcony collapsed, all 13 individuals plunged to the street below; they were in the midst of a birthday celebration when the incident occurred. 

Splintered wood remnants, noticeably decayed, were seen protruding from the scene of the crash, officials say. According to Reuters, all six of the individuals that were mortally/fatally wounded during the incident were students in their early-20s.

A memorial mass was held for each of the victims collectively on Wednesday, June 17th. About 350 students in the Berkley area came together after the mass, lit candles, and held a silent vigil for the victims at a nearby park.

Experts Continue to Investigate Collapse

The stucco-over-wood structure of the balcony at the Library Gardens apartment complex was called into question after the incident as city inspectors begun to investigate the collapse site.  Officials declined to make a statement concerning the condition of the balcony, but three Bay-area structural engineers, who examined pictures of the building after the incident, are in agreement that the collapse occurred because of wood rot and moisture exposure over a long period of time. 

Other experts believed defects in design, installation, waterproofing mechanisms, etc., were also believed to have played a role in the balcony’s eventual decay and collapse.

Experts also decided to remove the deck below the fallen balcony as well, after agreeing that the deck was unsound after the incident.  There is still question as to whether the balconies on the apartment building are/were actually functional or were meant to only provide an artistic flourish to the complex.


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