Awning collapse traps several people in Grant Hill - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Awning collapse traps several people in Grant Hill

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) -  A strip mall in Grant Hill is off limits to customers Wednesday morning, after a heavy, wooden awning that spanned 100 feet collapsed, trapping 11 people inside the building.

The overhang blocked the entrances to a laundromat, bakery, 99¢ Only Store and a produce shop, and with no rear exits, the people inside had no other way out.  Crews from San Diego Fire-Rescue responded to the scene in the 2600 block of Market Street with saws to cut the awning into sections and gain access to the front doors.
Alissa Preciado was one of the 11 people trapped. She told News 8, "it was just like a big thud, then the lights went out, it was scary." Preciado was inside the laundromat when the overhang collapsed and said the dust and smoke from the rescue operation made it difficult to breathe. "In the back, we looked for a window so we could breathe and get air, but it was really small."

It took crews about 45 minutes to free everyone and nobody was injured in the collapse.  

The owner of the property and buildings, Jerry Harris, told News 8 the awning was the original one put up in 1988. He's thankful no one was hurt when the awning collapsed, and he is considering a fabric awning, which would be more lightweight, to replace the one that fell. He said, "it could've been rain, or rot. We do regular maintenance, some of the wood had been replaced around here, it gets painted regularly and water proofed. It was really unexpected."

A structural engineer yellow-tagged the building, giving workers and clean-up crews limited access to the site until all of the debris can be cleared and hauled away. Harris is hoping to have the businesses back open at some point on Wednesday.

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