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Small Fire Breaks Out at NOLA Hard Rock Site

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

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A fire broke out Monday morning (Sept. 28) at the site of the partially collapsed Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans where workers are currently carrying out an $8.4 million demolition plan.

What Happened

The fire was reportedly considered a small blaze and no one was injured. According to reports, at around 8:45 a.m. on Monday, demolition contractors were cutting steel girders with blowtorches when sparks ignited a nearby pile of roofing materials.

Some of the materials contained tar, which added billowing dark smoke to the flames, making the incident look more serious than it was, according to fire officials.

It took about 20 firefighters several hours to fully extinguish the blaze, however, and the public was asked to avoid the area.

The fire occurred about two weeks shy of the one-year anniversary of the incident.

Accident Background

Around 9 a.m. on Oct. 12, part of the Hard Rock Hotel building gave way, resulting in a partial collapse of the structure, with more than 30 injuries and three worker fatalities. Project officials have reported that initial damages were caused by the collapse of floors six through eight, which resulted in additional damage spread throughout a large portion of the building.

In the safety efforts that followed the incident, 10 surrounding buildings were evacuated as electricity and gas to the buildings and condominiums were turned off, while damage to the roof of the neighboring historic Saenger Theater caused the cancellation of many scheduled performances.

According to New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell, a crane weighing several tons that was attached to the Hard Rock was also damaged and unstable. Due to these various factors and hazardous conditions, search teams were only able to recover one of the bodies of the deceased.

Metairie, Louisiana-based Citadel Builders was identified as the general contractor on the Hard Rock construction project, which was slated to be an 18-story, 350-room hotel near the city’s French Quarter. The hotel was expected to open sometime this year.

Cantrell told ABC News at the time that all preliminary information on the structure showed that all proper permits had been obtained and that everything was up to code.

Eight days following the hotel’s partial collapse, an evacuation order was put into effect as two cranes were imploded on the construction site—a decision that made the overall site safer than its collapse on Oct. 12, according to reports.

Infrogmation, CC-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A fire broke out Monday morning (Sept. 28) at the site of the partially collapsed Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans where workers are currently carrying out an $8.4 million demolition plan.

In December, Hard Rock Hotel developer 1031 Canal Development LLC announced a new conventional demolition plan for the city's partially collapsed structure, concluding that implosion methods would not be used to demolish the structure, after all.

And, at the beginning of the year, authorities released a demolition timeline.


At the beginning of May, crews started tearing down one of three buildings near the property that was not damaged, but needed to be removed for the demolition of the site.

McConnel issued an order to demolish the structures instead of waiting for the OK from the city’s Historic District Landmarks Commissions, a move that McConnell credited to hurricanes.

"Should a major storm strike the city during the upcoming hurricane season, the risk of further collapse of the unsafe and unstable [Hard Rock] structure would be greatly exacerbated, so this threat to human life and public safety must be abated immediately,” he said in the May 5 order.

In the final demolition plan, submitted by contractor Kolb Grading, the four phases of the $8.4 million plan are to be carried out on a six 10-hour workday-per-week schedule.

The phase plans are as follows:

  • Phase One – Crews remove the section of the tower crane that fell following the collapse last year. (It’s the unanticipated direction of the crane’s fall that is cited as the main reason to not implode the site.)
  • Phase Two – Once the crane is removed and a protective barrier is erected, officials will begin the recovery of the remains of the two workers who were killed in the collapse and could not be reached. The contractor will remove loose concrete and steel from floors nine through 18, as well as cantilever slabs, which should provide access to the remains.
  • Phase Three – Debris will be removed from the adjacent buildings that are being torn down (known as Red Zone structures). Crews will also demolish the remaining steel from the ninth through 18th floors.
  • Phase Four – The concrete portion of the building will be demolished.


Tagged categories: Demolition; Fire; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Hotels; NA; North America; Safety

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