'Portions of the collapsed roof can be seen through a bay door at the Cabin Branch Drive scene' yfrog.com/g0lidvhj (PGFDPIO via Twitter)
LANDOVER, Md. (WUSA) - Fire officials say it could take days to remove debris where a worker is trapped after a roof collapse at a warehouse at 1501 Cabin Branch Drive in Landover. The worker remains unaccounted for after the roof collapsed Thursday night.
As of Friday night during the lightning storm, the rescue crews stopped work to take cover but are standing by ready to resume operations once the storm has passed the area.
Firefighters who arrived on the scene Thursday night found that about 90 percent of the roof of the building, which is the former Safeway grocery warehouse and now holds a document and data storage company called Recall, had collapsed and the wall of the warehouse bowed out to as much as 45 degrees.
Twenty five workers in the warehouse were evacuated and were not hurt.
According to fire officials, firefighters "worked under a great risk of a secondary collapse and exercised all required precautions in an attempt to locate the employee." They focused on a part of the building where the missing worker was last seen working in the warehouse. Officials say the area contains "building debris, fallen storage racks and boxes and boxes of paper files."
The man has not been seen or heard from since the collapse, say officials, and his car is still in the building's parking lot.
According to officials, employees stated that a forklift accidentally struck a storage rack. It fell, hit other racks and support beams. the support beams then fell and the roof collapsed and the walls buckled.
Search efforts were paused after firefighters heard cracking and twisting metal sounds. They waited for structural engineers to assess the building before going back in.
Friday afternoon around 2, fire officials said they were continuing to search for the missing worker who is "trapped under a 40 to 50 foot mountain of debris." They are using two large cranes to remove debris. Officials say it could take around 5 hours to remove all the debris needed to find the worker.
In addition to the large amount of debris, firefighters are also dealing with Friday's heat. Officials say they are trying their best to stay hydrated and when not doing a task they are sitting in an air condition room in the Pepsi Bottling Group building nearby. There are also misting tents. Pepsi is providing water while the Ladies Auxiliary Canteen unit of the Prince George's County Fire/Rescue Association and the Anne Arundel County Fire Alarmers are providing cold drinks and snacks.