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Four workers hurt when structure collapses

by Jennifer Biller

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- Four workers were injured at a construction site Friday when the structure they were working on collapsed.

The extent of their injuries was not known.

The accident happened on Arthur Avenue, just off state Route 98, at what is to become a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The workers were framing the new church and in the process of affixing the roof trusses to the walls. Witnesses at the scene described a violent gust of wind that whipped underneath the trusses and brought the walls crashing down.

"The guys fell about 25 to 30 feet," said Lt. Jim Green of the Clarksburg Fire Department. "One person was trapped underneath the trusses on the concrete floor when we got here."

Fellow construction workers were cutting and dissembling the trusses to free the trapped worker when emergency crews arrived, Green said. Three of the injured were conscious, prior to being taken to United Hospital Center, he said.

One of the men works for Huffman Corp. of Bridgeport, said Roy Mooney, the project's superintendent for Huffman Corp. The other three men are employees of Cook Brothers Building and Excavating of Fairmont, Mooney said.

The names of the men could not be confirmed at press time.

One of the workers fell from scaffolding, and the other three workers were on top of the trusses when the walls came tumbling down, Mooney said.

Mooney was inside the construction trailer and noticed two large, black clouds approaching, just before the accident.

"I heard what I thought was a clap of thunder, and I looked out and the building was gone," he said. "I've been doing construction for 40 years, and I've never seen anything like this."

Jim Custer was in the parking lot at Hidden Valley Estates, using his car phone, when he saw the building come down. He called 911 immediately.

"I saw a swirl of wind and paper and stuff was flying around the parking lot, when the wind went right into the substructure," Custer said. "They had about two-thirds of the trusses up, and the walls just buckled and the thing came down."

Huffman Corp. is the general contractor for the job, Mooney said.

Staff writer Jennifer Biller can be reached at 626-1449 or by e-mail at jbiller@exponent-telegram.com.

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