Monday 5 December 2016

Inspectors found evidence of suspected dry rot in Berkeley apartment complex almost two years ago

Published 21/06/2015 | 14:28

A worker measures near the remaining wood from the apartment building balcony that collapsed in Berkeley
A worker measures near the remaining wood from the apartment building balcony that collapsed in Berkeley
The remnants of the Library Gardens apartment building balcony that collapsed. Inset: The six students who lost their lives in the tragic accident, top left to bottom right: Lorcan Miller, Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Ashley Donohoe, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke
The remaining wood from the Library Gardens apartment building balcony that collapsed is shown in Berkeley, California. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Berkeley city housing inspectors found evidence of suspected dry rot at two locations almost two years ago in the apartment complex where six young students died last week, RTE has reported.

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Six students fell to their deaths and seven more were injured - two critically - after apparently decayed timbers failed.

The fourth-storey timber-supported balcony of the Library Gardens complex catastrophically failed at 12.41am last Monday in San Francisco as the youngsters gathered for the 21st birthday party for one of the Irish students.

A City of Berkeley safety inspection later ordered a second balcony to be removed after ruling it was "structurally unsafe".

Read More: Probe focuses on rot as cause of fatal collapse

Official Berkeley city records show that following a series of inspections on September 11, 2013, signs of suspected dry rot were found in a "floor deck" in an apartment on the floor below the ill-fated balcony and also in a common area of the complex, RTE has reported.

The building's owners and property management company were given a number of weeks to address the defects.

In a document sent to the owners on 6 November 2013, the housing officials said: "floor surface or carpet is damaged creating a trip hazard or floor deck is dry rotted".

A similarly-worded notification was sent relating to a second area of the complex six days later.

A subsequent re-inspection in December 2013 concluded that this and four other concerns were addressed, and a "certificate of compliance" was later issued the following month by the planning and development department of Berkeley City authority.

There is no detail provided in the documents about whether the possible existence of dry rot had led to an examination of structural aspects of the building, to determine whether these had been affected by possible dry rot.

The material includes 100 separate municipal records, some with more than 60 pages each.

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