Crews work to stabilize remainder of church after collapse - KCTV5

Crews work to stabilize portions of church standing after collapse

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Crews are working Friday to stabilize the standing sections of a church after a partial building collapse.

Crews did tear down part of the building Thursday night, but officials are doing everything they can to stabilize the church to prevent the remainder from having to be torn down. Structural engineers will make their determination and then the city will have final say on the building's fate.

All 64 people who were inside the Rios De Agua Viva Church when the walls came tumbling down managed to scurry to safety. Children inside the three-story building were attending Vacation Bible School when the collapse occurred about 10:30 a.m. Thursday. The church is at Independence Avenue and Benton Boulevard in old Northeast Kansas City.

Officials believe heavy rains Wednesday night almost certainly caused the collapse as well as the age of the building, which opened in 1931 as a theater. Concrete blocks were put in at some point in place of the original brick.

"They seem to think the extreme rain caused extreme moisture to the mortar, causing it to collapse," dangerous building manager Dalena Taylor said. "Right now stabilizing is sufficient."

Bill Carter, an engineer for Foundation Engineering Specialists, explained the process.

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

City inspectors did take air samples to have them tested for asbestos or other hazardous materials.

The collapse of the building devastated church leaders and its members.

The building was last inspected for its safeness in 2006.

The fire department does annual checks for fire violations but not for structural integrity.

Even before this week's collapse, the church was going to be relocating. Church leaders had a contract pending on a building at 4000 Victory Drive in Kansas City, KS. The church currently using that building has invited Rios De Agua Viva Church to be worshipping there immediately. The first worship service will be held at the new location at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

The building that collapsed is listed with a realty company.

KCTV5's Jonathan Marshall contributed to this report.

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