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Report on Berkeley balcony collapse finds wooden beams had severe dry rot

The City Building and Safety Division issued a summary of initial findings last night from the investigation of the fatal balcony failure a week ago.

A crew works on the remaining wood of an apartment building balcony that collapsed in Berkeley.
A crew works on the remaining wood of an apartment building balcony that collapsed in Berkeley.
Image: Associated Press

Updated 24 June 6.30am

THE CITY OF Berkeley preliminary report into the balcony collapse that killed six students concluded last night that the wooden beams of the balcony had been badly rotted by water damage. 

City inspectors noted that the deck joist ends protruding from the exterior wall appeared to be severely dry rotted.

The City Building and Safety Division issued the summary of their initial findings last night from the investigation of the fatal balcony failure a week ago, in which several Irish students died.

Extensively rotted’

The inspectors noted that joists underlying the concrete balcony were extensively rotted at the place where the structure broke off, sending 13 young adults five stories down to the street.

Based on their observations, it’s been recommended that the City Council adopt new and modified regulations to enhance the safety of all current and future buildings in Berkeley.

The inspectors are calling for more frequent inspections and several changes in the local building code to prevent balconies from being exposed to moisture.

Building and Safety Division staff also confirmed that the Approved Plans complied with the applicable California Building Code requirements in effect at that time, and also that all state building code-mandated inspections were conducted.

The Building and Safety Division also offered their “deepest condolences to the families and friends” of the students.

berkeley-3 Source: TheJournal.ie

Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller and Eimear Walsh, all from Ireland, and Ashley Donohoe of Rohnert Park, California, were killed on June 16 when the balcony fell during a 21st birthday party.

The funerals of Eimear Walsh and Eoghan Culligan were held yesterday in Dublin.

The seven other people who were on the balcony when it collapsed remain in hospital.

Additional reporting Associated Press

First published 23 June

Read: ‘Eoghan was our translator, sense-maker and peacemaker. He was our wiser brother’>

Read: Eimear Walsh funeral hears of kind-hearted, generous and fun-loving young woman>

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