Construction accident damages library; causes evacuation

Matthew Resenhoeft

All sections of the McIntyre Library were open by Wednesday afternoon after a construction crane fell on the roof Monday morning, evacuating students and staff.

A 100-ton crane owned by Dawes Rigging and Crane Rental of Chippewa Falls was moving an old chilling tower off the roof of the library at about 9:45 a.m. Monday when it tipped and fell onto the roof. Moving the cooler was part of the ongoing construction project to install a new cooling system at the university, said Derold Schubert, associate director of facilities planning and management.

University officials evacuated the entire McIntyre Library and parts of the Old Library after the crane fell. Students and faculty were allowed back into parts of the library about an hour after the incident occurred. Some sections of the library, such as the Center for Reserve and Instructional Media, remained closed until about 11 a.m. Wednesday.

The crane was removed sometime late Monday evening, Schubert said. A 160-ton crane was brought in to do the job, he said, adding that the cooling tower was expected to be removed sometime Wednesday.

Schubert estimated that damage to the library was somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000.

Although they have not determined who will pay for the damage, Schubert said it would most likely be the insurance company of Dawes.

Students living in Katherine Thomas Hall in rooms closest to the library were instructed at around 1 p.m. to vacate their rooms as a safety precaution, hall director Martin Gentry said.

Students were allowed back in their rooms sometime that evening, he said, adding a miscommunication had some students thinking they were going to be moving out of their rooms temporarily.

Library staff member BebeAnna Buck was working the circulation desk Monday morning when she heard a loud noise. Police officers then instructed her to make announcements that students were to leave the library.

Buck and other library staff, along with students, waited outside or in Davies Center during the incident.

Senior Amanda Thorp was left outside without her jacket and her books. She had left the library to run some errands in Davies before the accident happened. She came back when people were not yet being let back into the library.

“I’ve got a project that’s due in there,” she said Monday morning shortly after the incident. “And I’m freezing.”