Investigation into billboard that fell onto BQE

Photo of collapsed billboard from Eyewitness News viewer Christian Taibi

January 14, 2012 2:52:39 PM PST
Investigators are looking into whether the strong wind had anything to due with a billboard collapse on Friday.

The large billboard fell from 421 Meeker Avenue in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.

Time is what it will take to dismantle the steel structure that was brought down in an instant.

The wind is thought to be a contributing factor.

"It just took seconds, like it was a bomb or something," said John Vasquez, an eyewitness.

You can see how quick the billboard collapses in a security camera video.

A Polish newspaper that rents space in a building nearby caught the moment on camera showing the sign crashing down.

That explosion of steel came as the 50 ton billboard toppled, violently shaking the Greenpoint neighborhood.

Some of the steel and advertising fell onto and blocked a lane on the BQE.

Another large portion of twisted support beams hung over Meeker Avenue.

"My building shook when I heard the noise, so I don't know what the hell was going on, I thought the building fell down," said Tim, an eyewitness.

"It was a lot of noise, a lot of debris, and the next thing you know, it was just boom," Vasquez said.

A large center pole heavily damaged an auto body shop.

Fire officials don't know the exact cause of the collapse but believe the wind played a role.

"I'm sure that was a contributing factor at the time. Winds were 25 to 30 miles per hour with gusts to about 40," said Deputy Chief Robert Strong, FDNY.

"I saw my billboard was gone. I said, 'Uh oh! The billboard is gone,'" said Ann Marie, an eyewitness.

The high winds were also responsible for bringing down limbs.

One came down in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx.

It fell onto a car and did a little damage.

"It was windy enough that if you had an umbrella it would have been 'Mary Poppins' out here," said Kenneth Soto, a neighbor.

No one was injured.


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