The Village of Spring Valley has issued a stop work order at the old Spring Valley High School, where officials said renovation work being done without permits led to the collapse of a mezzanine in the auditorium and a worker being briefly trapped in the rubble.
Although two workers suffered only minor injures in the collapse at the building, now the site of the United Talmudical Academy, officials said workers and emergency personnel were exposed to asbestos inside the building.
Spring Valley Fire Department Capt. Ray Canario said that all of his departments volunteers who were in the building on Friday to investigate the collapse had to turn in their firefighting "bunker gear" so it could be bagged and stored in a secure area to be deconaminated.
Canario said Spring Valley has issued a stop work order on the renovations of the old high school and that work was being done without required permits and approvals. Canario said he also called in inspectors from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate the worksite.
Inside the old high school, workers on Friday were using a jackhammer for demolition work. Canario said that at about 1:17 p.m. an emerency call was received alerting police and firefighters that an area about 10-feet by 10-feet of the mezzanine in the auditorium had collaped.
Canario said two workers were in the area of the collapse, and one worker was trapped by falling debris. However, the worker was able to free himself from the debris. Both workers were taken to the hospital for treatment.
A third worker in the building was not in the area affected by the collapse.
Police and firefighters searched the building for anyone who might have been trapped or injured.
"We're amazed no one was killed in this," said Canario.
During the search of the building, officials said they discovered exposed asbestors. As a result, Canario said all of the gear used by firefighters needs to be specially cleaned to remove any asbestos — a natural mineral that has long been used for insulation and heat protection but can cause illness when it gets into the lungs.