Stunned authorities in a small Indiana town are investigating the abrupt collapse of the town’s water tower, which crumbled to the ground in seconds this week, unleashing 250,000 gallons of water on the community.
Engineers and officials in the northwestern Indiana town of Goodland say they have no idea what led to the collapse about 11 p.m. Monday.
|The tower crashed to the ground in seconds, leaving officials searching for a cause. The rust-colored areas of metal are primer, not corrosion.|
The tower and tank dropped without warning, raining down tons of steel and a surge of water that shook the ground, ripped siding from homes, flattened fences, broke windows, smashed garages, sparked a small electrical fire, and whacked sheds across backyards 30 yards from the site.
Although the collapse sent one late-night dog walker running for his life, no injuries were reported in the community of 1,000, local news media said.
“It looks like a bomb went off,” Goodland Town Council President Jim Butler told reporters.
The disaster has local experts scratching their heads.
“We had tank manufacturers here,” Butler told WLFI-TV. “We had tank maintenance companies.
“We had our engineering firm that we normally deal with came to try and figure out why this tower went down.”
|This home, 30 yards from the tower, was one of many damaged in the collapse.|
Now, the town will hire a structural engineering firm to investigate.
Ryan Whybrew, who was among the local engineers investigating the damage, said the collapse may be the first of its kind.
“I don’t know that it has ever happened,” he told WLFI. “[The tower is] going to need to be taken apart and looked at and compared to standing ones and see what the major flaws could be, if there are any flaws.”
Corrosion Not Suspected
So far, officials say that corrosion is not among their chief suspects in the accident. The tower, built in the early 1960s, is inspected every five years and no problems have been detected, they said.
“There is no place where somebody could point to and say “Oh, yeah! This is rusted through. This is what caused the problem,” Butler said.
Butler said the current theory centers on a weakened leg of the tower, but he did not elaborate.
‘I Took Off Running’
Derrick Graveson, who was out walking his dog at the time, said he had heard and seen water dripping from the top of the tower, then saw sparks, “and, all of a sudden, it started to crash down.”
“I took off running…” said Graveson.
Despite the widespread property damage, the consequences of the collapse could have been far worse.
“I have three kids that live with me,” said Jeremy Joseph, whose nearby house was rocked by the accident. “Little boys. I don’t know what they could have done if that would have happened in the daytime.”
New Tower Planned
Officials said a replacement tower will have to be built in a new location, which will probably require a land purchase or agreement. That project will probably be completed sometime next year.
Meanwhile, many people are searching for answers.
As Butler said: “There are probably lots of towns wondering why our tower fell, too. Maybe they can prevent their tower from falling.”