Demolition crews used 128 pounds of dynamite to bring down the unstable portion of the collapsed Florida condo building – a “difficult” task that went off without a hitch, according to an executive at a company involved with the project.
Mark Loizeaux, the 73-year-old CEO of Controlled Demolition Inc. in Maryland, was hired by a Delray Beach firm, BG Group, as a subcontractor to take down the remaining portion of the Champlain Towers South building late Sunday, toppling the remnants of the 12-story structure in just seconds.
Loizeaux’s crew of seven workers drilled 165 holes in the building’s remaining walls and concrete columns on basement and lobby floors to pack the 128 pounds of dynamite inside, the Miami Herald reported.
“Which is not much,” he told the newspaper Monday.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava had earlier told reporters demolishing the remaining structure would take weeks.
“I think I can do this,” Loizeaux recalled telling county and state authorities. “I can bring down the structure with minimal impact.”
The demolition was the fastest ever for BG Group, a process that typically takes weeks or months. Crews skipped several standard steps, including stripping a building of its contents to cut risk of flying debris and dousing the structure with water to reduce dust. Those preparations were considered too risky for the site, the Herald reported.
Cava previously said bringing the building down was necessary for rescue teams to continue working at the site since portions of the pile were off-limits to workers due to fears that the remaining structure would fall.
Loizeaux said the controlled explosion that was “probably one of the difficult” his company had been assigned went exactly as planned, leaving a fabric tarp over the debris field covered only in dust, the Herald reported.
“Nothing went backward,” Loizeaux said. “Zero … We didn’t even break a window in the adjacent building. Not one.”
Crews resumed searching for victims hours later after the site was deemed safe and soon found three more bodies. The bodies of 36 victims have been recovered, authorities said Tuesday, while another 109 people are still missing as of early Wednesday.
Loizeaux was invited to Surfside because CDI is among the country’s most experienced demolition firms. The company helped take down a portion of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City following the 1995 bombing there. He’s also worked extensively in Florida, where he took down his first building in Miami in 1973, the Herald reported.
Loizeaux pulled two drillers from a project in New Jersey even before the Surfside operation was approved. The dynamite used in the demolition was delivered from Baltimore, he said.
“I don’t get nervous,” he said, recalling the countdown. “A lot of people were pacing around … I do this all the time.”
The founder of BG Group said he discussed demolition plans with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration late last week as Tropical Storm Elsa approached South Florida.
“The governor basically directed them: There’s a storm coming, it’s not safe, get it done,” Steve Greenberg told the Herald.
Greenberg said his team visited the site Thursday and got approval to start working a day later. The company later signed a $935,000 state contract for the job Saturday, the Herald reported.