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St. Pete Water Main Break Damages Building, Closes Central Avenue

A water main break in St. Petersburg caused the partial collapse of a downtown building Thursday morning, Bay News 9 reported.

The break in the 12-inch transmission line was noticed about 10 p.m. Wednesday night when water flooded streets near the building on Central Avenue, said Steve Lawrence, St. Pete Fire Rescue Deputy Fire Marshall.

Crews worked throughout the night worked to excavate soil down to the leak itself, but water wasn’t shut off immediately to prevent contamination to the water supply from dirt and debris, according to Bay News 9.

Thursday morning, a hole opened up near the corner of 7th street and Central Avenue right under a storefront currently occupied by Underground Network Church. The hole, reported to be 50 feet wide and 20 feet deep, caused the building’s walls to partially collapse.

Lawrence said during a late morning news conference that engineers are trying to stabilize the building to prevent further collapse or damage to surrounding storefronts. A forklift will place two large beams across the damaged portion of the building to brace it, but that will take a few hours, he said.
Once the building is stabilized, workers can repair the water main leak, Lawrence said. Then the hole will be filled in and the building will be further stabilized so that water and power can be returned to surrounding businesses.

“There is a firewall separating this business from the other business and that’s what we’re working on now, trying to salvage the other businesses,” Lawrence said.

Central Avenue is closed between 6th and 8th Streets. Lawrence isn’t sure how long it will take to finish the repairs and the fate of the building depends on engineer’s assessments.

Lawrence said the building will either be demolished or repaired.

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