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Engineers explain the collapse in Florida and why it likely happened

Condo Building Collapse Miami Surfside
Posted at 5:50 AM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 08:40:12-04

SOUTHERN COLORADO — Experts are still looking to determine the exact contributing factors that led to the condo collapse in Florida, but from what investigators know, the building appears to have fallen in a "pancake collapse."

This type of collapse is dangerous and can even complicate the search and rescue efforts. According to structural engineers, a "pancake collapse" is named for the way collapsing floors land and stack as they fall. Each floor brings all of its weight down on the floor below, accumulating more weight and stress, as the structure falls.

Pancake collapses occur frequently after major earthquakes, or the building could be damaged, according to reports. The damage is usually found in a building's lower floors or foundation, which triggers the top floors to collapse vertically into the floors below. A pancake collapse is more dangerous than other collapses, because there are often few voids, or pockets of space and air, in the rubble. The structures that remain near the collapse site are unstable and could fall as rescuers move through the rubble.

Jimmy Patronis, a Florida State Fire Marshal, told our news partners the state's environment can also affect aging structures.

"Saltwater and salt air can get in and these buildings are required to have inspections every 40 years," Patronis explained. "This is to make sure the integrity-- the bones of the building are still stable for folks to live in."

The fire marshal says this is a building that was was constructed in the 80s and nearing inspection age.

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