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Two workers seriously injured when wall collapse drags down scaffolding during Harlem demolition

Two workers were injured after the scaffolding they were on collapsed due to a falling brick wall, trapping them in the debris, requiring FDNY to rescue them at a demolition of an old church on Madison Avenue and 126th Street in Harlem Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Two workers were seriously injured Thursday afternoon when a wall collapse pulled down scaffolding that workers were on doing demolition to an old Harlem church, trapping them in the debris, fire officials said.

The two men, who have not yet been identified, were pulled from the debris by firefighters at about 2:42 p.m. They were listed in serious condition at Harlem Hospital, but fire officials say they were expected to survive.

Fire officials say the men were about 25-30 feet off the ground when a brick wall collapsed onto the scaffolding, causing it to crumble to the ground.

Police question workers after the collapse. (Photo by Todd Maisel)
Two workers were injured after the scaffolding they were on collapsed due to a falling brick wall, trapping them in the debris, requiring FDNY to rescue them at a demolition of an old church on Madison Avenue and 126th Street in Harlem Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

The demolition was being conducted on the former Metropolitan Community United Methodist Church which had been standing on Madison Avenue and 126th Street since 1871. Efforts to save the church failed some years back because it was crumbling. Four years ago, the ceiling partially collapsed, and the rubble had been on the sanctuary floor ever since.

The new building will be residential, according to an information board outside the demolition site.

The men were working for Celtic Services, a demolition company that does work throughout the city. They were given a permit for demolition on Nov. 8, 2019 that expires in May.

The buildings department was on the scene evaluating whether any laws or work rules were violated.

The incident is one of several in the past few months, some of them fatal. In November, a worker was killed when a wall collapsed at a demolition site on the Lower East Side as they tore down an old synagogue. Only two weeks ago, a worker was killed at a Queens construction site when a wall collapsed on him too.

On Feb. 27, three workers were injured in a scaffold collapse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn when they say high winds pulled several floors of the structure down.

This is the demolition permit. (Photo by Todd Maisel)
One of the entry ways to the old church still stands. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

 

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