Walkway collapse at MU apartments kills firefighter

COLUMBIA, MO (KPLR)- A Columbia firefighter was killed early Saturday while evacuating a damaged apartment building near the University of Missouri-Columbia campus. Around 4:30am, firefighters responded to the University Village Apartments for a report of a roof collapse in one of the units. Eighteen residents, including children, were safely evacuated from the building.

As crews were in the process evacuating the building, a second story walkway also collapsed. A  firefighter was on that walkway when it failed and suffered fatal injuries. The firefighter has been identified as Lt. Bruce Britt, a 23 year veteran of the department.

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University Village is located on Providence Road in Columbia. The apartments are available only for Mizzou students who are either married, have children, are graduate students, or over the age of 21.

Workers inspected the walk-ways at all of the other buildings in the University Village graduate student housing complex. Removal of the soffits revealed years of rust and corrosion in the support structures.  They brought in truckloads of wood to shore up potential weak spots.

But residents were still very concerned about the safety of the walkways leading to their doors and the safety of those who live below them.

The university is putting up the 18 evacuees from the building at area hotels and other campus housing.  Mizzou’s chancellor has ordered safety inspections of all university-owned residential buildings.  The university village complex was built in 1956.

MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin released this statement early Saturday morning:

I am deeply grateful to City of Columbia firefighters and University of Missouri Police Department officers for their rapid response to the incident that occurred early this morning at University Village Apartments. Because of their quick and effective response, no residents were injured, and all are being moved to alternate locations.

The safety and security of our students is our top priority. The University has begun a thorough inspection of all buildings within the University Village Apartment complex.

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