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Recovery Efforts Underway at Site of Fatal Marathon Oil Building Collapse

Two days after a fatal collapse tragically killed three construction workers at the site of Marathon Oil Corp.’s future headquarters, officials in Houston, Texas, continue to work on a plan for safely removing their remains from the building.

Interior Stairwell Collapsed at One MRO Project in West Houston

The workers died Monday afternoon, when an interior stairwell collapsed at the One MRO project, a 15-story skyscraper under construction in the 900 block of Town & Country Boulevard, just inside the southeast intersection of Interstate 10 and Beltway 8 in west Houston.

A fourth worker was injured in the collapse.

On Tuesday, the Houston Fire Department indicated that two structural engineers were on-site to aid in the recovery efforts. Fortunately, the collapse was isolated to the interior stairwell, and the rest of the building is structurally sound.

“Riggers are preparing to lift portions of the collapse, although recovery efforts will be paused this evening,” the department said in a release issued on Tuesday.

No Timeline for Recovering Workers’ Remains

The collapse occurred around the 13th and 14th floor of the building’s interior “scissor” stairwell — a set of two interlocking stairways providing separate paths of egress located within one enclosure.  The pancake type collapse sent sections of the stairwell to the ground floor, crushing the deceased workers.

Firefighters plan to remove several large concrete planks that remain in place through a hole cut into the building’s roof. Once that operation is complete, they’ll assess the debris on the ground floor and formulate a plan for retrieving the worker’s remains. There’s still no timeline for when that might occur.

While it’s not clear what caused the stairwell collapse, officials have said that the tragedy occurred as the stairs were being set in place. The South Texas Regional Office of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been notified of the accident.

Stairwell May Have Collapsed When Support Broke

According to Houston Public Works, the Marathon building was inspected on Friday, and no issues were noted. They revisited the site on Monday to conduct a ceiling cover inspection, and workers were given the okay to proceed with the building cover.

Stan Marek, CEO of Houston-based subcontractor Marek, had two employees working 6 feet away from the site where the three men died.

“They were trying to fix a very, very heavy stairway, one of the supports broke, and it just pancaked,” he told The Houston Chronicle.

Houston-based Hines is developing the One MRO project, and D.R. Harvey Building is serving as the general contractor.  East Texas Precast was the subcontractor assigned to work on the stairwell.

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