Collapsed building was due for inspection

HOUSTON [PHOTOS: See images from Tuesday's building collapse]
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[IMAGE: What the motel looked like before]

There are seven buildings on the site being rehabilitated for low-income housing. Six had been inspected, but the seventh, the one that fell Tuesday, was scheduled for inspection on the same day it collapsed.

Ramiro Sigala, 24, died when the old motel building collapsed. According to fire officials, the crew was working on a floor joist at the time. Two other workers were trapped, but firefighters managed to get them out.

One of the men who was rescued returned to the site Wednesday to visit with his co-workers. He walked with a noticeable limp.

As for the project's history, remodeling permits applications were submitted on June 12, 2008, and the plans were approved on September 25, 2008. Work began in December 2008.

Six of the seven buildings, dubbed Buildings A through F, were inspected during February and March, but Building G, which collapsed Tuesday, was not. It was scheduled for inspection on Tuesday, but the inspectors never made it out.

On Wednesday, Houston Major Bill White addressed the situation.

"Whenever there are rehabs in construction, there are somewhat increased risks, but it's premature to speculate on causes," said Mayor White.

Fire officials told us that because this was a rehabilitation project, there were fewer permits to obtain. The city said Camden Building Inc., the general contractor on this project, had gotten all the necessary permits.

A spokesperson for the Public Works Department could not tell us why city building inspectors never made it to the site Tuesday.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and city inspectors have started their investigation. The contractor, Camden Building Inc., told us they will also conduct their own investigation.

The attorney for the family of Ramiro Sigala will start an investigation once the federal and city investigations are complete.

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