Remains of demolished Edmonton hotel tumble into busy street

EDMONTON — A controlled collapse of the remains of a downtown Edmonton hotel didn’t go exactly as planned, when part of the building toppled onto a downtown street on Sunday.

EDMONTON — A controlled collapse of the remains of a downtown Edmonton hotel didn’t go exactly as planned, when part of the building toppled onto a downtown street on Sunday.

Fire crews and police rushed to the area when large pieces of rubble from the demolition of the Mayfair Hotel fell onto busy Jasper Avenue, the main street through the city’s downtown.

Tim Wilson, a spokesman with Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, said they received a 9-11 emergency call around 5 p.m. that part of a building had collapsed onto the busy street.

A demolition crew, including a large piece of heavy equipment, had been working on pulling down the remaining lower floors of the hotel at the time, he said.

“They were pulling in an exterior wall. They were pulling away from the street into the where the centre of the building would be but the demolition went awry and the building collapsed onto Jasper Avenue,” Wilson said.

He said the demolition team had taken appropriate safety precautions, including putting flag persons in the street to control traffic in the east-bound lanes of the road prior to the incident.

“Obviously it didn’t go as planned but the main thing is that nobody got hurt,” Wilson said.

The chunks of debris flattened a bus shelter and wiped out two tall light posts and two nearby trees.

Several police vehicles also rushed to the area and closed traffic in both directions in a two-block area.

Fire officials were working with Epcor, a city utility company, to ensure that the debris was cleaned up in a safe manner, Wilson said.

Clark Builders, a well-known construction and project management company, was overseeing the demolition at the time, Wilson said.

Wilson didn’t know how many members of the demolition crew were working at the building at the time.

They have been slowly tearing down the hotel since May.

Tara Howlett, an eyewitness who works in a drugstore across the street, said she was watching the effort to pull down the final portion of the hotel when things suddenly went sideways.

“The construction crew blocked off all four lanes of traffic themselves when they did the big heave-ho and pulled it down,” she said. “And it just happened to be a big bang and a big dust cloud into the store and then everyone just kind of stopped and stared. Kind of in shock.”

Lonnie Hill heard a loud crashing noise as he walked in the area, and said he arrived on the scene to see a big pile of rubble.

“I just heard the collapse. Heard all the sirens all of a sudden and when I was walking up the road, I saw the old hotel there in the middle of the eastbound lanes,” Hill said.

There’s no word yet on exactly what went wrong, Wilson said.