Was weather a factor in USA practice facility collapse?
The big question on everyone's minds: how could this happen?
That's what insurance investigators are working to determine after a practice facility under construction at the University of South Alabama fell over during an afternoon thunderstorm Saturday, July 22.
So far, the facility has cost the university $1.86 million, and the school isn't sure how much it's going to cost to clean up the mess left behind.
Regardless, many people feel it's a miracle no one was killed or injured in the football-field-length building collapse.
Engineers on the project told FOX10 the foundation and storm drainage facets of the project were completed, and contractors were into the phase of erecting the steel building.
Now, the school says those plans are out, and the facility will not open in the fall as planned.
"It's a setback for the football program, and for the entire athletic department, because other sports on campus were also going to use this as a practice facility. Also, emotionally it's a setback to the university, because we were all excited about it," said Bob Lowry, a spokesman for the university.
Lowry said the insurance company, Velocity Risk Underwriters, is now conducting an investigation to determine what caused the collapse.
One factor under consideration is the weather.
When the steel beams came crashing down, it was around 2:15 Saturday afternoon. FOX10 News Meteorologist Matt Barrentine explained what the weather data from that afternoon showed.
"A storm basically formed right on top of south, and you can see right here on the radar, there's a lot of red meaning some very heavy rain was falling st that time, in the airport, just a few miles away, recorded wind gusts of 22 mph, inside this little storm though, it's likely that the wind gusts would have been higher," said Barrentine. "That could push over objects, create some issues, and we see it from time to time, even from small storms."
Both the civil and structural engineers involved said their work was just about complete, and they do not believe the collapse was due to their portions of the project.
FOX10 News also reached out to the architect, the mechanical engineer, the general contractor, and the insurance company for comment about this incident, but has not heard back.
We'll let you know when we learn more.