Bricks fall from new city bathrooms

Wayne Thomas stands next to the pile of bricks that cascaded from the roof of the new city bathrooms Photo available for purchase

Wayne Thomas stands next to the pile of bricks that cascaded from the roof of the new city bathrooms on Friday afternoon.

Lois Swoboda
Published: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 09:20 AM.

Wayne Thomas of Eastpoint escaped possible serious injury when a row of ornamental bricks cascaded 15 feet from Apalachicola’s new public restrooms to land at his feet Friday afternoon.

Witnesses said they were startled by a loud noise at around 4 p.m. when about 50 bricks slid from atop a sheet of metal at the corner of the building and crashed to the parking lot below.

Thomas, among a group of Habitat for Humanity volunteers preparing for the annual Mardi Gras parade and street party, said he was standing about two feet from the bricks when they fell, and suffered only a scraped elbow.

The bricks were an ornamental parapet cap on the roof of the new public restrooms on Commerce Street just off Avenue E. The bathrooms initially opened in time for Labor Day last year, but soon closed temporarily due to plumbing problems before reopening in mid-October.

City Administrator Betty Taylor Webb and Code Enforcement Officer Wilbur Bellew responded quickly after being notified the bricks had fallen. They arrived on the scene within minutes and immediately taped off another corner of the building where cracks were visible in the mortar of the brick ornamentation.

Webb summoned William Poloronis, owner of Poloronis Construction, contractor on the project. Using a ladder and the bucket of an earthmover, he and an assistant removed the brickwork from two additional corners of the roof so that caution tape would not be present for the evening celebration. The parapet on the front left hand corner of the bathrooms did not appear to be cracked and has not yet been removed.

Webb speculated it was possible water had seeped under the mortar during last week’s freezing rain. The water expanded when it froze and may have cracked the mortar, rendering the bricks unstable.

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