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Shrine Scaffolding Collapses, at Least Five Hurt

Aired March 22, 2001 - 6:03 p.m. ET


JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're also following a situation in Los Angeles, where there are reports of a scaffolding collapse outside the Shrine Auditorium where, of course, the Academy Awards ceremony will be held on Sunday evening. Joining us now with one of the emergency units in the Los Angeles area is Bob Collis, on the telephone line.

Mr. Collis, what can you tell us about what happened today?

BOB COLLIS, LOS ANGELES FIRE DEPARTMENT: We got the call at about 2:20. Actually, what happened, Cal/OSHA will have to decide that, but 75 feet of scaffolding was 20 feet in the air when it collapsed for unknown reasons. Initially, we found two patients -- one serious and one critical. Then, within five or ten minutes, we found two other patients that were minor. And then in the last five minutes, there was a fifth patient, that's minor to serious. All being transferred to area hospitals. Cal/OSHA has been notified and responding and also are Building and Safety to conduct an investigation as to what happened here.

CHEN: Now, we're seeing pictures just coming to us now showing -- this was taken just a short time ago. This is apparently one of those injured. So, you're saying that you have reports now of five people being injured. One of those being a critical injury and one serious?

COLLIS: Yes, ma'am. One critical, one serious. Two minor and the fifth one, I would say is minor to serious. It didn't sound life- threatening, the fifth one.

CHEN: You said earlier that this was about 75 feet of scaffolding. Is it windy there in L.A. today?

COLLIS: It's not windy in the city. It is in the outlying area. I don't think the wind was a problem; I think it was some malfunction somewhere or a human error. I don't know; that will have to be determined.

CHEN: I understand that; it's pretty early in the game in all this. It's 75 feet in width and then, how high?

COLLIS: It was in the air 20 feet.

CHEN: Twenty feet. And what was the structure for? COLLIS: Well, it was on the outside of the building, I believe. I don't have the details. I'm not sure what they were doing there. It was outside of building. So, for whatever reasons; it was going to be for cameras or decorations. I don't know what they were doing there.

CHEN: Is there an explanation of the people who were injured, whether they were working on putting it up or working behind it?

COLLIS: Well, again, I don't know what they doing there, except that they were 20 feet in the air. What they were doing, I don't know.

CHEN: The structure was 25 feet in the air. But were the people also...

COLLIS: No, the people were -- on the scaffolding, then it was off the ground 20 feet.

CHEN: So, the people who most seriously injured were the people who were up on top of the scaffolding.

COLLIS: Yes, that's my understanding.

CHEN: Then the entire structure came down. When you received the first reports of this, how did this come in?

COLLIS: Scaffold collapse at the Shrine. That's how we got the call.

CHEN: Oh. Was it from some of the people working there?


CHEN: I guess this is something similar to what they do every year it looks like outside the Shrine Auditorium?

COLLIS: I would say, similar to it. They do have a lot of temporary set-ups there. If this was part of that, or if they were actually working on the building itself, I don't know.

CHEN: Are these things normally approved for safety by the fire department before the actual event takes place?

COLLIS: We have inspectors on scene which is normal for this. But again, if it was a malfunction or a human error, some of that is unavoidable, so that will have to come out in the investigation.

CHEN: We're looking at all of the structure and we're seeing it from KCAL-TV, showing us some pictures from the scene outside the Shrine. I'm wondering whether, at this point, is this an area that has been locked down? Is this something that will stop preparations for the Academy Awards ceremony?

COLLIS: I couldn't answer that question. I wouldn't think it would. It's possible, but I don't think it will. I think they will go on with the program.

CHEN: You don't think there's any sort of need to shut down the area? I don't know if that's standard procedure.

COLLIS: Again, Building and Safety and Cal/OSHA will have to decide that, but I don't know. I really couldn't confirm that.

CHEN: Mr. Collis, if you could just go back again, because I guess was confused. There are five people injured. You think, they were all on top of the scaffolding?

COLLIS: That's my understanding. But there may have been part of them on the scaffolding and part on the ground. I know there was one who was trapped under the scaffolding -- the critical -- briefly trapped under the scaffolding. I don't know if he was on it when he came in.

CHEN: And when you say that he was critically injured, can you describe the injury to the area of the body? Is it a head injury? Mr. Collis?

I believe we have lost Bob Collis, who is with the Los Angeles Fire Department. Again, as he was explaining this to us, and as we put the story together with the pictures that we're seeing from our affiliate in Southern California, what we're seeing is the scaffolding as part of the media set-up outside of the Shrine Auditorium, which of course, is where the Academy Awards is to be held Sunday evening.

You see all the red carpet being set up for the stars as they come into the Shrine Auditorium. And a big area of scaffolding, which surrounded the media area, where the media would be taking pictures of the stars as they come in, apparently collapsed today.

From Mr. Collis in the L.A. Fire Department, the area that collapsed was about 75 feet in width, he told us, and about 20 to 25 feet in height. Mr. Collis believes that those injured -- most seriously injured were at the top of the scaffolding when it collapsed; the late reports that the fire department is giving at this point is that five people were injured.

One of those injuries is said to be critical. He said that at one point, there were reports that a person was trapped underneath the scaffolding; another person was seriously injured. Again, we don't know which of the five people this is that you are seeing on your screen now, but we are told that there are five injures. One critical, one serious. Two others minor. One that might be minor. Two serious, again.

Here, we are seeing a person who is clearly being taken out by stretcher by the local authorities there, and being taken to a local hospital. With five people being injured in the course of the scaffolding collapse outside the Shrine Auditorium, which is where the Academy Awards would be held on Sunday evening.

The late report from the fire department is, they do not see a reason why this would delay the ceremony on Sunday, but obviously, this would be up to other authorities to make sure the area is secure and safe.

CNN continuing to follow that story, as well as late reports we're getting from El Cajon, California, further down near San Diego area, where there are reports of a school shooting at Granite Hills High School today. Two people injured in that, one of them is believed to be to be the suspect in that school shooting case.

CNN continuing to follow all the breaking news developments. We'll return with more coverage after this.



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