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Collapse Rescue at Florida Power Plant

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A building collapsed at the Progress Energy power plant on Weedon Island, trapping at least one person inside.

Lt. Joel Granato with St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue says the building at 1601 Weedon Island Dr. collapsed with a 67-year-old worker still inside.

The Paul L. Bartow Power Plant, built in the 50's, has been offline for a year.  The energy company was in the process of dismantling it.

As part of that effort, crews today planned to collapse boiler number 3. The boiler section was a 180-foot structure with a 10,000 square foot base, which accounted for approximately 25 percent of the overall plant structure. This was the first boiler dismantlement to be performed as part of the project.

That process involved cutting steel beams that hold it up with the idea that it would collapse on itself.

According to a statement released by Progress Energy, the crew was preparing for a controlled collapse, scheduled to occur at around 8:30 p.m.  The collapse began, instead around 7:15 p.m.

Progress Energy Spokesperson Suzanne Grant said 21 people were on site at the time of the collapse, including 13 contractors and 8 employees.

The trapped contract worker, a 67-year-old male employee of Buffalo, NY-based Frontier Industrial Corporation, was the only person in the building at the time of the collapse.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the gentleman trapped in this terrible accident and his family," said David Sorrick, vice president of power generation for Progress Energy Florida. "At this time we are solely focused on assisting first responders in their rescue effort."

The rubble pile is about 60 feet high and rescue workers say the contractor could be anywhere in it.

Crews are attempting to rescue the worker.



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