Evacuation lifted after high-rise crane scare

What was first reported as an unstable 2,200-pound concrete slab at risk of falling 35 stories onto downtown streets was downgraded Wednesday evening to a “strut failure” that fire officials said no longer poses danger to the public.

A full evacuation of streets and buildings surrounding 44 Tehama Street  – Howard Street between First and Second Street, Tehama at First Street, the Interstate 80 Exit ramp at Fremont Street, and Folsom at First Street — remained in place Wednesday night and will persist for at least another three hours and possibly longer, said Assistant Fire Chief Tom Siragusa in a press briefing.  

Originally reported as an incident at 41 Tehama Street, fire officials later corrected the address of the incident to 44 Tehama.  

This story has been updated with additional material from the scene and San Francisco Fire Department officials.

The project developer said in a statement Wednesday that the 2:45 p.m. incident occurred when a system used to form concrete walls was being raised from levels 35 to 36 and had a partial hydraulic failure.

Fire officials described the incident as a failure of one of the struts supporting a crane at the building’s core, and said the tilt of the crane system caused one of the concrete walls and formwork to lean out.

After conflicting reports from fire officials and construction crews, the crane was not affected; instead a 30-ton pump that brings cement to the roof is suspected of causing the failure.

There were no injuries in the incident, and the construction company contacted fire officials and began evacuating the area immediately, fire department spokesman Jonathan Baxter said.

Siragusa also said that the evacuation of the surrounding buildings will remain in place until tomorrow.  

Baxter said:

“The wall surrounding the crane has been shored up and is stable. … There is no threat.”

Baxter says that this is only a temporary fix, and that crews will continue to work for as long as needed to resolve the issue.

In an update around 9 p.m., Baxter announced all the closed roads in the area have been opened and that the evacuation has also been lifted to all buildings except 44 Tehama Street, which will not reopen until construction crews remove the pump sometime Thursday morning.

The project at 44 Tehama St. is a 37-story, 403-unit luxury residential tower near the Transbay Transit Center site being developed by Hines and Invesco Real Estate.

Construction began in 2015, according to a 2015 statement from general contractor Lend Lease.


Bay City News contributed information to this report.