Badly rotted beams identified in deadly balcony collapse

The apartment balcony that collapsed last week, killing six college students, injuring seven others and shocking the country of Ireland, had significant dry rot, as did the similar cantilever balcony below, according to a city of Berkeley analysis released Tuesday.

Students killed in balcony collapse, clockwise from top left: Eimear Walsh, 21; Olivia Burke, 21; Ashley Donohoe, 22; Eoghan Culligan, 21; Niccolai Schuster, 21; and Lorcan Miller, 21.

Discolored and rotted wooden supports were visible where the balcony broke loose.

In the aftermath of last week’s tragedy, City of Berkeley officials have recommended changes to building regulations including a requirement that builders create an opening to the underside of enclosed balconies so that they can be periodically inspected.

City officials have shut down their investigation and the Berkeley Police Department isn't carrying out a criminal investigation in connection with the tradegy. Roshal wrote that they immediately noticed that the joists "appeared to be severely dry rotted".

Two cousins who were among the victims killed when a balcony collapsed in Berkeley were remembered Saturday as kind, fun-loving young women who shared a bond of twins even though they grew up an ocean apart, one in California and the other in Ireland.

In the ten-page report, they described how investigators on the scene had discovered that the wooden joists extending out from the building which supported the balcony decking had extensive dry rot.

Because the city had only just concluded its analysis, the matter was not on Tuesday's council agenda.

City officials deemed another balcony in the same building structurally unsafe in the wake of the accident. They ordered that balcony removed.

Engineers are examining the waterproofing of the joists.

In all, the proposed building code additions and inspections provided what Cuzzillo called "belts and suspenders", or redundancy.

Astaneh questioned not only the returning of the deck but the demolition of the identical lower deck, which also was determined to have water damage. Staff said that all state building code-mandated inspections were also conducted.

The new inspection requirements outlined by the City of Berkeley would apply to existing buildings and those units would be required to have maintenance inspections by qualified inspectors once every five years.

Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026.

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