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Building collapse

A contractor removed a load-bearing wall in the basement of a Southwest Side apartment building, causing it to partially collapse on Monday.

A Southwest Side apartment building is uninhabitable after a contractor working on a remodeling project removed a load-bearing wall, causing part of the residence to collapse, authorities said Monday. 

Authorities cleared residents from Summit Hill Apartments, 1202 McKenna Blvd., after responding to calls about a partial building collapse at about 3:40 p.m., said Madison Fire Department spokeswoman Cynthia Schuster. 

The 42-unit building was damaged after a contractor working in the building's basement removed a load-bearing wall, Schuster said. Parts of the building above collapsed due to the missing support.

No one was injured, she said. 

Damage wasn't visible from the outside. Schuster said the most significant damage occurred when parts of the third floor collapsed into the one below.

"Everything looks normal from the outside," she said. 

Schuster said city inspectors have deemed the building unsafe for occupants. She said there's no estimate of when the approximately 30 residents will be allowed to return. 

"It could be a while," she said. 

Authorities led tenants to retrieve some belongings and pets on Monday, but four units were too dangerous to enter, Schuster said.

While she said some displaced tenants have found friends and families to stay with, officials are working to see if places such as local hotels would host others who have nowhere else to go.

A call to the apartment's office wasn't returned Monday evening. City property records list the building's owner as New York-based CT Madison LLC, but contact information couldn't immediately be found.  

Howard Mcdavid, one of the displaced residents, said he was talking with workers about the sagging floor in his second-floor apartment when the floor lurched down — with him standing on it — about 1.5 feet.

"All of a sudden, while we were talking, looking, the floor just collapsed," he said.  

Mcdavid said he quickly grabbed his wife and left the building. He said the contractors were remodeling the basement to make an exercise area. 

He said he doesn't know where they'll stay in the meantime, adding that he was worried about damaged or destroyed belongings because he doesn't have renter's insurance.

Mcdavid said he hopes those responsible will pay to replace any destroyed belongings because the collapse was avoidable.

"Somebody messed up," he said.

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