Area firefighters return after condo collapse mission

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Posted July 9, 2021 | By Joel Bronson,

Local firefighters from Florida Task Force 8 hold a memorial at the site of the Surfside Condominium collapse in South Florida. [Submitted]

Local firefighters received orders to deploy to the Surfside Condominium collapse in South Florida on June 27.

The unit, known as Florida Task Force 8, included specialized Urban Search and Rescue members from Ocala Fire Rescue, Marion County Fire Rescue, and Gainesville Fire Rescue.

The catastrophe drew all of the state’s task force groups to assist in recovery and rescue.

During their deployment, Task Force 8 members worked from noon until midnight using specialized equipment, including cranes, hydraulic tools, and cameras to search for, locate, and retrieve victims.

Task Force 8 members returned home on July 4.

A section of the building collapsed on June 24. As of July 8, there were 54 people killed, with 86 people unaccounted for.

On July 7, Emergency workers gave up on any hope of finding survivors in the collapsed Florida condo building, telling sobbing families that there was “no chance of life” in the rubble as crews shifted their efforts to recovering more remains.

Local firefighters from Florida Task Force 8 are greeted by Marion County Fire Rescue Chief James Banta, right, after they returned from helping in the search and rescue mission at the Surfside Condominium collapse in South Florida. [Submitted]

Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told families at a private briefing that crews would stop using rescue dogs and listening devices but would continue to search for their loved ones.

“Our sole responsibility at this point is to bring closure,” he said as relatives cried in the background.

The cause of the collapse is under investigation. A 2018 engineering report found that the building’s ground-floor pool deck was resting on a concrete slab that had “major structural damage” and needed extensive repairs. The report also found “abundant cracking” of concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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