Eastern Market building collapse sends bricks ‘down like rain’

A building in Detroit’s Eastern Market partially collapsed Saturday morning, sending bricks and windows tumbling to the street below, injuring at least one person and damaging multiple vehicles.

The incident unfolded just before 11:40 a.m. at a multi-story building at Winder and Russell. 

“We were standing across the street and all of the sudden we heard a boom and then saw a huge plume of smoke and heard ‘pop, pop, pop, pop’ from the bricks hitting the ground and the cars underneath,” said Joshua Windham of Wyandotte, who was at the market with his mother and two sons. 

“We thought maybe it was gunshots and people started running,” he added. “People started running, you ask questions later and get out of the way first. It was a huge chaotic scene.”

First responders on the scene of a Saturday morning building collapse at Winder and Russell streets in Detroit’s Eastern Market. (BridgeDetroit photo by Jena Brooker)

James Harris a chief with the Detroit Fire Department said that there was a partial building collapse and that the fire department’s drone is inside, searching to ensure no one is inside. Harris confirmed a civilian walking down the street was injured by some falling debris and was rushed to the hospital with minor injuries.

“People were in there (the building) and they got out, thank goodness,” he said.

“We know it’s a busy day in the city of Detroit and in Eastern Market civilians are going to be out here and be curious but we want everybody to stay away. Everybody’s safety is our priority.”

The cause of the collapse remains under investigation, Harris added.

Sabrina Watkins of Detroit also witnessed the incident that she said spanned several minutes.

“It just started crumbling and then it was just a bunch of smoke and dust and debris and it fell down like rain,” said Watkins, noting that a person missed getting hit by the bricks and transformers started blowing up, and “the second part of the building started coming down and that’s when it hit all of those cars.” 

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