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Houston Firefighters Recover Remains of 3 Workers Killed in Marathon Oil Building Collapse

The bodies of three construction workers who died tragically on Monday when a stairwell collapsed at the site of Marathon Oil Corp.’s future headquarters in Houston, Texas, have finally been pulled from the rubble.

Precast Stairwell Failed at One MRO Project in West Houston

It took less than four hours for Houston Firefighters to recover the remains on Wednesday, after spending part of Monday and all of Tuesday on efforts to stabilize the building and remove sections of the stairwell through the roof of the 15-story skyscraper.

“It’s unfortunate it’s taken this long to get them out, but we want to ensure the safety of our members as we bring closure to the families,” said Assistant Fire Chief Michael Mire of the Houston Fire Department.

The interior precast “scissor” stairwell collapsed as it was installed at the One MRO project, an office tower under construction in the 900 block of Town & Country Boulevard on Houston’s west side. The skyscraper is scheduled to open next summer and will serve as the new headquarters for Marathon oil.

Marathon Oil Stairwell Collapse Left 3 Dead, 1 Injured

Three men were crushed to death when sections of the stairwell crashed to the ground floor, and a fourth worker suffered unspecified injuries. Before any of the deceased could be pulled from the rubble, crews had to cut through a three-story pile of debris to access the victims.

“It’s been a very difficult operation because each of those stairs weighs approximately 14,000 pounds,” Mire noted.

The names of the dead have not been released, but their remains were transferred to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences for identification and autopsies. The Houston Fire Department returned control of the site to general contractor Harvey Builders.

Failure of Precast Products is Rare

So far, it’s not known what caused the stairwell to collapse.

Chris Lechner, executive director of the Precast Concrete Manufacturers’ Association in New Braunfels, told The Houston Chronicle that precast products rarely fail.

“They are plant manufactured under exhausting specifications and then transported to the jobs site,” he said. “They’re built to be assembled.”

The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration is investigating Monday’s fatal collapse.

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