AUSTIN -- Strong winds peeled bricks from the side of a building in North Austin, forcing an evacuation and part of a shopping center to shut down.
The call came in just after 11:30 Monday morning. When firefighters arrived at the three-storey building at 9415 Burnet Road, they found part of the facade was now a pile of rubble.
The roar of falling bricks sent customers and employees in the complex rushing outside to see what was happening.
Rosemary Fraizer works at Rio Smiles Dentistry and heard the roar of bricks as they crumbled to the ground.
“I was trying to maintain being that it's my first day on the job and we had patients in our chairs,” Fraizer said. “It sounded like someone had run into the building and it was falling apart.”
“It's just weird, it's the strangest thing I've ever seen,” said Rob Curtis, who works nearby. “I'm not an engineer but I wouldn't want to be in the building at all.”
It didn't take long for firefighters to organize the crowd and get them out of harm's way.
Moments later, as the crowd watched, more of the facade hit the ground.
Austin Fire Department said high winds blowing through the area played a part in bringing that wall down.
“The way the wind was rushing through there, we saw that secondary collapse big gust of wind then that wall came down,” said AFD Battalion Chief Palmer Buck. "You have problems with large trucks with signs and anything else the wind is able to take a hold of. And I think you saw dramatic example of that when the second wall came down.”
Now all business owners can do is wait.
“People are calling us, it's a telephone business primarily and we can't respond to them. I just hope we don't lose too much revenue and too many customers,” said Bob Nahabit.
City Code inspectors and structural engineers are examining the building. It's not known when it will reopen.