ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A building collapse in Alaska Friday evening killed one person and briefly trapped two others, including a victim who communicated with firefighters before being freed and transported to a hospital, officials said.
The Anchorage Fire Department confirmed the death of one victim after a building housing the Turnagain CrossFit gym collapsed, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson tweeted that the fire department and the Anchorage Police Department responded to reports of the building collapse at 5:25 p.m.
Fire department Assistant Chief Brian Partch said more than 10 people were inside when the building collapsed and three were trapped in the structure east of Old Seward Highway, the newspaper reported.
Firefighters located and were able to speak to one person while working for about an hour to cut away debris. The victim was then removed and transported to a hospital, officials said.
"We had our search and rescue crews jump in and they started shoring up the building to make it safe for the rescuers and to protect the individual who was trapped in the building," Partch said.
Fire department Assistant Chief Alex Boyd said another person escaped the building without assistance and was treated at the scene by first responders.
Partch said first responders were working with Municipality of Anchorage engineers and others to stabilize the building debris to recover the deceased victim, who was not immediately identified.
The cause of the collapse was unclear and would be investigated by inspectors and structural engineers, Boyd said, noting that initial speculation was the weight of snow on the building was a contributing factor.
About a third of the building experienced significant structural damage and officials were concerned other areas may be impacted.
"With one area of failure, we’re concerned about other areas of failure," Boyd said.
People were evacuated from businesses in parts of the building beyond the gym and engineers will determine when it is safe to return, possibly within 48 hours, Boyd said.
Bronson thanked the fire and police departments for their "incredible response" and professionalism and said he and his wife were praying for the loved ones of the deceased victim.
"Our hearts go out to the family & friends of the person whose life was lost," Bronson said in a tweet.