‘50 or more partying’ in downtown apartment when floor gave way

2012-09-24T00:00:00Z 2012-09-24T06:10:15Z ‘50 or more partying’ in downtown apartment when floor gave wayBy MIKE TIGHE | mtighe@lacrossetribune.com La Crosse Tribune
September 24, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Three people were taken to the hospital late Saturday night with injuries sustained when a second-story apartment floor collapsed in a historic building in downtown La Crosse.

Firefighters responded to a 911 call shortly after 11 p.m. that someone had fallen through the floor in an apartment at 135 S. Sixth St.

As firefighters were responding, dispatchers received reports that up to 50 people may have been in the apartment, prompting the them to increase the number of vehicles sent to the scene to five, including an urban search and rescue vehicle.

All of those inside the apartment had escaped by the time firefighters arrived, but first responders treated three people for injuries. Tri-State Ambulance took them to Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

The names of the injured were unavailable, so the hospital was unable to provide condition reports Sunday night.

The collapse involved a 30-foot-by-30-foot area, according to the fire department.

City building inspector Brent Thielen condemned the structure after evaluating it at about 1 a.m. Sunday. He turned jurisdiction over it to the building’s owner, Nate Brooks of the town of Campbell, who had been called and went to the scene.

“There is lots of structural damage,” Brooks said during an interview at the scene Sunday afternoon, when he had returned to check the building in the daylight. “It might be repairable, but it’s hard to say."

Five tenants occupied the six-bedroom apartment, said Brooks, who declined to name them and said he did not know who was injured.

The apartment spans two storefronts in the 1913 building, designated as a historic site in the city as the original location of the Trane Co.

The side of the building below the collapsed area is a vacant commercial space, Brooks said.

“I was using it as my own personal storage space,” he said. “I had thousands of dollars of stuff down there that I am sure is garbage now” under the rubble from the collapsed floor.

“I’ve heard that 50 or more were partying in the apartment, which is something I definitely do not approve of,” Brooks said. “I’m sure they’re all in their early 20s, if not late teens."

He declined further comment until he is able to talk to the tenants, the fire department and the insurance company.

The one area of the building that is not condemned houses the Vitamin Studio, an art studio that has classes and provides work space for artists.

Vitamin Studio owner Matt Duckett, who was out of town this weekend for a wedding, had a friend enter his store Sunday morning to check for damage. Although the power was out, no ceiling damage or other problems were apparent to the friend or the Tribune reporter who accompanied him.

Firefighters possibly averted a potential explosion when they detected a natural gas leak at the rear of the structure Saturday night.

“Fire crews turned off the gas meter to secure the leak and metered for explosive gas,” according to the fire department’s news release. “Quick action in turning off the gas meter prevented a possible fire or explosion."

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(17) Comments

  1. kelly36
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    kelly36 - September 25, 2012 9:12 pm
    Do any of you people know how to spell words correctly? Why not think a little before you write, or better yet use spell check!
  2. Lucenut
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    Lucenut - September 25, 2012 8:29 am
    You should be embarrassed that you did business with him. I don't blame HIM, I blame YOU! Were you not able to see and understand the property you were renting?
  3. TheTruth12
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    TheTruth12 - September 25, 2012 1:45 am
  4. packerowner2011
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    packerowner2011 - September 24, 2012 7:26 pm
    And he doesn't even answer his phone calls when you to reach him at his cell. Which I think is lame. And also I think it is kinda of odd that he does not a prove for this kind of partying but he does himself. And don't even work for him either!! Not even joking!
  5. Gbregnz
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    Gbregnz - September 24, 2012 6:25 pm
    I rented from this dirtbag unfortunately. Every property of his I've been in are run down and the house we got was slapped together poorly. I had my upstairs neighbors cat once come down through the floor and fall through our kitchen cieling. I hope they inspect all his properties cuz this pile would have so many more buildings condemned. He loves to rob all security deposits too by stating false damages. Stay away from River City Rentals beause he is a true slumlord who puts money over everything.
  6. Cassandra
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    Cassandra - September 24, 2012 5:17 pm
    anonymous6450, the area that gave way was approximately 900 square feet. If the building were properly constructed, it should have been able to handle that weight spread across the structure, even if people were jumping up and down. The question turns to the underlying structure and whether modifications were made. Were bearing walls or pillars removed from the lower floor? Were cuts made in the supporting joists? Was the structure in good condition or was there water damage and rot to the joists?
  7. xfinemail
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    xfinemail - September 24, 2012 4:06 pm
    Tribune may want to ask around, I heard there was a young man under that collapsed floor that held it up to help many many people get out un-hurt...
  8. anonymous6450
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    anonymous6450 - September 24, 2012 3:09 pm
    Average Person occupies 2 Sqft. Average Person weighs 200lbs.
    12 X 12 room = 144sqft = 70 people X 200lbs = 14000lbs = SEVEN ( 7 ) ton and that's just people weight, it doesn't account for walls, refrigerators, or water beds.
    Seven ( 7 ) ton per 12 X 12 area should be a minimum specification. If not built to handle 7-ton per 12 X 12 area then it won't hold. Don't allow it to be rented, and don't rent it.
  9. DrunkInLaCrosse
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    DrunkInLaCrosse - September 24, 2012 2:41 pm
    I'm actually surprised this doesn't happen more often in La crosse.
  10. Napoleon
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    Napoleon - September 24, 2012 1:58 pm
    Fifty people, that's roughly five tons. But, unless these folks were all dancing in unison, the structure should have been able to handle that load easily. Before it was rented out to tenants, the apartment should have been checked for structural anomalies and the renters ought to have been warned if there was a potential problem. If there was dancing during the party, that's a different matter:

    Mechanical Universe 17 - Resonance

  11. TheTruth12
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    TheTruth12 - September 24, 2012 1:52 pm
    Nate is what they call a "slumlord"he doesnt fix anything. He use to own the copeland apts on copeland Ave. Those place were gross when he had them. The apt had bugs and just plan dirty. I had a friend that would call him for repairs and he wouldnt do anything about it. I bet this place wasnt up to code either. He would rent to anyone and just charge a higher soc deposit. Thats why there were so many problems on copeland ave. Thank God they sold that place to someone that is taking the time and money into cleanning them up.
    And he said he had thousands of dollars of stuff in that space. Good job Nate that was fast thinking to try and get an insurance claim. Cant wait to hear if he sues these kids. You should take better care of ALL your property or sell them to someone that will clean them up.
  12. baywatch242012
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    baywatch242012 - September 24, 2012 1:08 pm
    The person that operates River City Rentals and his staff are one of the worst neighbors around. Constantly parking their trucks and trailers in the alley for hours at a time making it nearly impossible for anyone to pass around them. And when you do try and inch around their trucks and trailers, they just watch with a smug look on their face and a "what you gonna do ?" expression knowing full well they are blocking cars from getting through.

    They also use the alley dumpsters behind their building as way to get rid of piles of broken furniture, broken TV's (that usually end up smashed all over), and other bulk junk that ends up scattered because it just sits next to the dumpsters.

    I don't really know if he's to blame for the floor collapsing - 50 + people is a lot of weight to put on a floor. If I invited 50 people into my house, would a residential house floor built in the mid 70's collapse under the weight?? Were they built to withstand the weight of so many people?

    In any case, no real comment on the floor falling other than I feel for the people who got hurt. Other than that, if you're reading this Nate - please clean up your act and start being a bit more neighborly. Do you see ANYONE else parking in the alley and blocking others from getting through? NO. Do you see anyone else's dumpsters in the vicinity overloaded with trash, broken furniture, broken TV's (is it even legal that you dump TV's by the dumpster?) and other piles of junk? NO.
  13. Tim Russell
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    Tim Russell - September 24, 2012 12:08 pm
    Renting from him made them "screwed" before this even happened.
  14. MrNegative1
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    MrNegative1 - September 24, 2012 11:50 am
    @ CLS; Totally agreed. Sadly; However most above store front Landlords DT have in the lease no more than "xx" ammount of people allowed in the unit including tennants... If he had this clause in the lease, the kids are... how do you say... SCREWED...
  15. MrNegative1
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    MrNegative1 - September 24, 2012 11:39 am
    wonder if the store front is still for lease? Maybe this is the attention he needed... LOL.
  16. CLS
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    CLS - September 24, 2012 11:36 am
    Tuff Break Nate. Im sue you will try to blame the kids you rent to for the damages. Not like you havent made more than that off them in the first three months they lived there. Hope these kids get good advice when you try to take them for damages and they sue you for the injuries and personal distress this caused. You should be thanking the firemen for saving whats left of your property.
  17. formerLAXres
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    formerLAXres - September 24, 2012 9:06 am
    Poor Nate's "stuff" got ruined and his place condemned....maybe if it were up to snuff...no one would have gotten hurt!
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