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3 people are killed and 9 injured after a hangar collapses at an Idaho airport

Authorities respond to the scene of a reported building collapse near the Boise Airport on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, in Boise, Idaho.
Terra Furman
/
AP
Authorities respond to the scene of a reported building collapse near the Boise Airport on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, in Boise, Idaho.

Updated February 1, 2024 at 11:47 AM ET

BOISE, Idaho — A hangar under construction on the grounds of the airport in Boise, Idaho, collapsed Wednesday, killing three people and injuring another nine, officials said.

Five of those injured in the collapse at the Boise Airport are in critical condition, the city said in a statement released Wednesday night.

Authorities responded at about 5 p.m. to the privately owned steel-framed hangar, which suffered a "catastrophic" collapse, Boise Fire Department Operations Chief Aaron Hummel said during an earlier news briefing. Everyone who had been at the site had been accounted for as of Wednesday evening, he said.

The city statement said that the three people killed died at the scene. It said that responding fire crews worked to stabilize the scene and rescued multiple victims.

"It was a very chaotic scene," Hummel said, describing the incident as a "large-scale collapse" of the framework of the building. "I don't know what caused it, but I can tell you it was a pretty global collapse," he said.

Boise Airport operations were not impacted, officials said.

Terra Furman was driving on Interstate 84 at about 5:30 p.m. when she spotted at least 20 police cars, ambulances and firetrucks about a quarter mile (400 meters) from the entry to the airport. They were around what she described as a crane folded in half and a building collapsed into the shape of an 'M.'

"The walls were still up at a point and the middle collapsed in on either side," she said.

Hummel said some of the victims were on a hoist or other elevated platform at the time the structure fell, and that required some specialized rescue efforts. He confirmed that a crane also collapsed in the incident.

Leticia Ramirez, a spokesperson for Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, said emergency and trauma teams were working with first responders to treat patients who arrived from the scene.

Authorities are investigating what caused the collapse. It happened next to Jackson Jet Center, which offers private airplane charters and maintenance.

Boise city permitting records show the contractor Big D Builders had obtained permits to build a 39,000-square-foot (3,623-square-meter) jet hangar for Jackson Jet Center.

The $6.2 million project was to include the construction of a concrete foundation and a metal building. Messages left by phone and email seeking comment from Big D Builders were not immediately returned.

Jackson Jet Center said in a statement that their "hearts go out to everyone affected by this horrific event."

Jessica Flynn, CEO of the public relations firm Red Sky, issued the statement on behalf of Jackson Jet Center. The statement said the collapse happened just west of the existing Jackson Jet Center at a site where the company's new hangar was under construction, and that dozens of people were working on the site.

"We do not know exactly what caused the hangar collapse," the statement said. "Our focus now is on supporting our team and partners during this difficult time."

James Quintana was driving to the airport when he saw emergency vehicles rushing past him. He said he immediately thought it was a plane crash. He then saw the collapsed hangar and paramedics tending to victims.

"I'm retired law enforcement and when there is that much commotion, that many emergency personnel and vehicles, there is something huge that has taken place," he said. "It was a scary sight."

Cody McGowan was working about 100 yards (91 meters) from the building when he said he heard something that sounded like a loud dog whine. When he looked up, he saw a hangar as tall as 3 ½ to 4 stories tall collapsing in on itself and part of the crane on top.

"When I walked up there, you're just kind of like, 'Wow,'" he said. "It's shocking to see a building falling in on itself."

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: January 31, 2024 at 8:00 PM AKST
A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Jessica Flynn as the CEO of Jackson Jet Center. In fact, Flynn is CEO of the public relations firm Red Sky.
The Associated Press