SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) – Fire rescue officials in South Florida have been looking back in remembrance of the Surfside condo collapse and the somber weeks that followed.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue took to social media to share moments in the aftermath of the June 24, 2021 tragedy on the one-year anniversary.
“We were notified Thursday evening, we were wheels up early Friday,” said Spencer Bashinski with Task Force 4, “and we got here Friday evening and were almost immediately put to work on the pile.”
“Three hours later, we were at the airport, and we brought our best people,” said Col. Golan Vach with the Israeli Search Team.
“It was a very complicated collapse, a pancake collapse,” said Avi Gabbay with the Israeli search team.
“It’s called a pancake collapse because it looks exactly like that: it looks like a stack of pancakes,” said City of Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joseph F. Zahralban, “and the void spaces are so small that they’re an extreme challenge to get into and to determine if people had the opportunity to survive.”
“They’re under few meters of concrete with not a lot of voids in between, so this makes this operation very complicated,” said Gabbay.
“Very challenging afterwards. We had a fire that lasted for about a few days,” said Vach.
“It was an overwhelming sight when we arrived to see not only the collapse, but additionally, that amount of fire in there was almost a gut punch,” said Bashinski.
“We had the weather conditions, which gave us a lot of pauses in our work,” said Vach, “and afterwards, of course the rescue was challenging itself, finding the people.”
“When you look at the volume of the materials, it takes a long time to penetrate that volume of material,” said Zahralban. “What we’re doing is essentially cutting slabs, lifting them out, penetrating, searching, cutting another slab, lifting it out, penetrating … and even in a pancake collapse, voids do exist.”
“Human remains detection dog, the barking is her alert to indicate that she is in odor,” said Dr. Jenn Brown, a K-9 Search Specialist with Florida Task Force 2.
When asked how it felt to hear the barking, Brown replied, “Sad, it makes me sad.”
“You know, this is what our mission is, with the use of our system, heavy building collapse,” said Ken Pagurek with Pennsylvania Task Force 1. “This is what we were designed to do. We’re here to help, we’re here to stay for as long as we’re needed. We’re brothers and sisters, and we love you.”
You can see more on the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Instagram at @miamidadefirerescue.
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