Previous repairs, heavy rain may have led to church's collapse - KCTV5 News

Previous repairs, heavy rain may have led to church's collapse

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

City inspectors and engineers are looking for answers after an 83-year-old church partially collapsed Thursday morning.

While the front of Rios De Agua Viva Church at Independence Avenue and Benton Boulevard, which is in Northeast Kansas City, looks fine, the backside is gone.

As KCTV5 Investigative Reporter Eric Chaloux was at the location with a private structural engineer discussing the possible cause of the collapse, a second part of the church collapsed shortly after 3 p.m. It left behind a cloud of dust filling the block that was almost blinding.

The structural engineer said he could tell right away what might have forced the building to crumble. He said it appears to him that the building had problems in the past and had been repaired.

"I looked at the corner of the building and saw that part of it was concrete block, and it was originally brick, so there was a structural problem somewhere along the way and that was the fix they came up with - good bad or otherwise," Bill Carter said.

He also pointed to a brick storage building next door as an example of what can lead to a collapse.

"The concrete block was a patch that was laced in there," Carter said.

It's the same section that collapsed during his interview.

The first collapse was brick. A city inspector said the heavy rain Wednesday night could be partly to blame.

"There's a lot in the structure of old buildings. The mortar, for instance, in these buildings is a lime-based mortar and it's chemically unstable. So exposed to moisture, the moisture takes the lime out of the mortar and there's nothing left but sand," Carter explained.

Carter snapped photos of the building to the east, showing some missing bricks to the left of the windows. The concrete beams, known as lintels, are also worn from the freeze-thaw cycle.

Every brick supports the brick above it, he said, and when the most important brick falls out, all the ones above it fall out too, leading to a collapse. He said no one knows when that brick will fall or break. It could be tomorrow or even 50 years from now.

Digging into the building's past shows that it has had many owners. The one record on file with Jackson County is a form from 2006 where a visual inspection from the outside gave the building good marks.

The Kansas City, MO, website shows all the complaints on the building. One is for hazardous structure, but city officials say it had nothing to do with stability. They explained that the specific hazardous structure complaint was for peeling paint and eaves in disrepair. None of the complaints on file had to do with structural issues.

The building passed its annual fire inspection in January, but the fire department doesn't look for structural issues. Neither does the city. They say inspections are only complaint driven.

City officials said there are too many buildings and not enough staff to solely inspect every building.

Building engineers spent much of the day trying to make sure other walls didn't fall down. The building has been declared dangerous and will be demolished.

The buildings code inspector says there was a daycare of some sort inside and, in order to run a daycare, the building must meet safety codes. There were no known violations on site.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

  • Previous repairs, heavy rain may have led to church's collapseMore>>

  • UPDATE

    Children OK but in tears after church collapse

    Children OK but in tears after church collapse

    Friday, August 7 2015 10:41 PM EDT2015-08-08 02:41:43 GMT
    Children attending a church's Vacation Bible School were shaken but OK after the building partially collapsed Thursday morning. People say it is amazing that none of the 64 adults and children inside were hurt.More >
    Children attending a church's Vacation Bible School were shaken but OK after the building partially collapsed Thursday morning. People say it is amazing that none of the 64 adults and children inside were hurt.More >
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