Cleanup in Fatal Arkansas Building Collapse to Begin

November 22, 2011

Work is scheduled to begin Monday on the cleanup from two buildings that collapsed in Morrilton, Ark., earlier this year, killing a 2-year-old girl.

The work is starting after the buildings’ owners and the city reached a deal on how the cleanup will be done. The agreement comes months after the buildings fell May 16 in downtown Morrilton, killing Alissa Jones and seriously injuring her mother, Erin Coffman. The building owned by J.J. Magie housed two businesses, and the one-story structure owned by Brian and Jenifer Andrews was being renovated at the time.

Officials haven’t determined what caused the buildings to come down.

One owner had hired a company to remove the debris, but the plan became complicated when the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality reported finding asbestos in the rubble. That caused removal costs to skyrocket.

Under the new deal, the buildings’ owners turned the property over to the town and won’t have to worry about liability issues in case something goes wrong during the cleanup.

The Andrewses agreed to pay $34,000 of the $68,000 cleanup cost; Magie will chip in $30,000 and the city will pay the difference, Mayor Stewart Nelson said.

“We’re ready to move forward. The mayor is happy. You will see him dancing in the street,” Nelson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Friday for a story in Sunday’s editions.

The contractor, Controlled Environmental Solutions Inc. of Russellville, probably will be doing preparatory work Monday before the buildings’ actual removal begins later in the week, Nelson said.

It will take about three weeks to clear away the buildings’ remains, he said.

Brian Andrews said he’s “relieved” the cleanup is finally about to happen.

“I never dreamed it would take this long,” he said.

Magie said he, too, is glad.

“I didn’t ask for any of this,” he said. “I hate that I had to give away my property.”

The city plans to “save a few things” from the debris to build a bench in memory of Alissa. The mayor said the bench will be placed on a sidewalk in the area.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.