Digging for cause of building collapse

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- A day after two buildings collapsed, workers were out demolishing the rest of the historic structures and surveying the damage of several other buildings at 5th and K Streets Northwest.

Investigators are narrowing in on a cause.

Crews had to bring down a large air conditioning unit because it was teetering on the edge and about to fall.

Council Member Tommy Wells said, "there may have been some digging around it by another building that took the underpinning out. I don't want to say definitively but maybe there was some digging around it.

The gentleman's club, the Cloakroom sustained heavy damage. It's office space destroyed, a bulletin board and monitors are exposed.

Workers ran out of the building at the time of Friday's collapse. The owner says a cook was injured and broke his ankle.

Most of the Cloakroom and the adjacent nail salon are deemed structurally sound but the damage is done. Longtime residents are sentimental about the 100-plus old buildings.

Wayne Steinhilber, a resident said, "this use to be a parking lot. Now there's night life, condos going up. Now, there's a piece of history being taken down today."

Charles Michaels said, "A lot of friends worked there and participated. It was a lot of fun, music, dancing. It was an exciting experience at the time."

Charles Michaels is talking about good times at the Cloakroom's predecessor -- Louis Rogue.

Steinhilber said, "It was a club with a little bit of spice you'd say."

The District is home to many century old buildings and that means this could happen again.

Wells said, "Often times people want to enlarge their buildings to get more room underneath. It can be done but we have to be careful. There's always a risk with aging infrastructure."


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