Smokestack partially collapses, causes evacuation in Norwalk

Norwalk police report that there's a problem with the building, prompting safety concerns.

Marissa Alter

Apr 4, 2024, 12:00 PM

Updated 48 days ago


Thirty-three people had to evacuate their apartments Wednesday evening after the partial collapse of a smokestack at a public housing complex in Norwalk.
First responders were notified around 4 p.m. after staff at the Roodner Court Learning Center arrived.
“They found a hole in the roof and bricks on the floor, and that's how we first found out about it,” explained Adam Bovilsky, executive director of the Norwalk Housing Authority. “That smokestack was built in the 50’s when the original structures were built and hasn't been used in decades. It didn't raise any alarms in any of our physical needs assessments that we use outside third parties to look at our properties and determine what needs to be fixed. So, we believe it was the rather strong winds yesterday and into the evening that caused the problem.”
Luckily, no one was hurt when the bricks came down, but officials didn't want to take any chances. Bovilsky said out of an abundance of caution, they closed the learning center, part of Ely Avenue and the apartment building next to the smokestack, Building 23.
“Anytime you have bricks falling off a 125-foot tower, you're concerned. There's also some cracking, evidence of cracking, along one of the sides of the structure,” Bovilsky stated.
He said 13 families—made up of 15 adults and 18 children—were evacuated from Building 23 and are being put up at a local hotel.
“The Housing Authority is paying for their stay as well as their food while they are inconvenienced by being away from home,” Bovilsky told News 12.
He said the hope is people will be able to return Friday, but that can only happen once the smokestack safely comes down. The Housing Authority hired Stamford Wrecking to handle the work. Crews were on scene Thursday afternoon.
“They’re going to be putting bands around the various places in the tower to secure it first. They're going to be placing tires and plywood on top of the learning center roof to protect it from any further damage, and they are going to then bring in a crane and start the work of taking the bricks down sort of one by one from the top,” Bovilsky explained.
Bovilsky said the crane will be used to remove the top half of the tower, which should happen Friday morning. Once that's done, the wrecking crew will demolish the rest of the smokestack using other means.

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