Firefighters sawed through layers of rubble for more than an hour Thursday evening to rescue a construction worker from the wreckage of a building that collapsed in Northwest D.C.
A special operations team with D.C. Fire and EMS talked to the man throughout the process, and he was alert, conscious and speaking as they got him out of the building in the 900 block of Kennedy Street NW, Fire Chief John Donnelly said.
News4's Shomari Stone was at the scene and reports he could hear the man say "Ow, ow" as firefighters got him onto a stretcher to get him to an ambulance.
Donnelly said the worker was trapped in what the department calls a "pancake collapse" underneath three floors of debris with only eight inches of space around him. A K-9 sniffed out the spot where the man was closed in, which helped firefighters get to work on his removal.
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Crews used chain saws, electric saws, pry bars and manual labor to meticulously cut out the rubble.
Donnelly said the man is very lucky to be alive.
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"We've seen these before where the people didn't [survive] so he was definitely blessed today," Donnelly said.
Firefighters told News4's Mark Segraves that as soon as the man got out he asked for two things: water and for someone to call his mother.
Firefighters also rescued four other workers from the debris soon after the collapse, and they all have non-life threatening injuries, the fire department said.
Two homes to the left of the building were evacuated, but they don't appear to be in danger of immediately collapsing, officials said.
Edward Constable said he was in his bedroom getting ready to take a nap when the building nextdoor collapsed, taking part of his home with it.
"This huge boom happened. Next thing I know, there is water pouring in the bedrooms," Constable said.
Constable said he and his wife have complained to the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs for two years because they felt construction was damaging their home.
"I thought it was thunder," Karen Wood, who owns a floral shop across the street from the building, told News4's Jackie Bensen.
Plywood, windows and construction materials littered a neighbor's backyard.
Strong storms moved through the area at the time of the collapse with winds gusting as fast as 60 mph.
D.C. Fire and EMS said it was too early to know the cause of the collapse.
Online records show the property was set to become a condo building called "The Ralph."
Officials said Friday the building was up to date on inspections and had not been cited for any violations.
Stay with News4 for updates to this developing story.
News4's Mark Segraves, Shomari Stone and Jackie Bensen contributed to this report.