Townhome Collapse Kills One, Injures Five, Weather Blamed

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A screen capture of a video on Megatel Homes website shows the buildout of the Soho Square development in West Dallas, and construction of what appears to be three-story townhomes.

From staff reports

Editor’s Note: Overnight, Megatel Homes responded to our questions, and provided a statement. Those responses have been added to this story.

A townhome collapse in West Dallas Monday afternoon that killed one and injured five more is believed to have been caused by the weather.

Dallas Fire and Rescue spokesperson Jason Evans told reporters Monday evening that there were six workers inside the three-story townhome on Borger Street, near Singleton Boulevard, when the fire department arrived. Five were transported to local hospitals, and one was a fatality.

The five injured were in what Evans termed the “collapse zone.”

“Not necessarily inside the building, but within what we would term as the collapse zone of the building,” he explained.

Raul Ortega Cabrera, 35, was confirmed dead at the scene. The Dallas Morning News reported that he was a father of two, with one more on the way.

The builder, Megatel Homes, issued a statement yesterday, saying, “The high winds and heavy rain that Dallas is currently experiencing caused the unfinished structure to become vulnerable and collapse. Our thoughts and prayers are with the construction crew and their families.”

The company’s Soho Square development is located on Borger Street.

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Winds reached close to 62 miles per hour at Love Field during the same time frame, and heavy rains blanketed the area, with flash flood warnings issued throughout nearly the entire Dallas-Fort Worth region.

“I don’t know exactly how it happened,” Evans said. “We got the call just before 2 o’clock, when construction workers were working on a three-story townhome.”

“It was during or right at the time the heavy rain showers started to come in,” he continued. “At that point, the building collapsed.”

While the DFR doesn’t have an official hand in the investigation, Evans did cite weather as a potential culprit.

“But I do think we wouldn’t be stretching it to think that the straight line winds and the rain may have had something to do with it,” he said.

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Two-day rainfall totals, courtesy the National Weather Service-Fort Worth

Federal law requires companies who have deaths or injuries resulting in hospitalization to report those incidents to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A search of construction reports on the OSHA website didn’t seem to show any reports regarding Megatel yet.

In response to an email to a Megatel spokesperson asking for the company’s OSHA report status, as well as any policies they may have regarding crew safety during severe weather, the company said, “First, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the crew member who passed away yesterday and everyone affected by this tragedy.”

“The onsite construction workers are employed by independent third party contractors and are therefore subject to their employers’ policies and procedures,” Megatel said in response to questions about any policies regarding work crews and severe weather. “The individual who passed away was employed by a subcontractor hired by Megatel.”

“We can confirm that those that were injured, including a Megatel employee, as well as the individual who passed away, were taking shelter from the weather in the structure,” the company continued. “None of them were working on that particular structure.”

When asked if the company was aware of any OSHA complaints or filings against it, and if so, how many, the company responded, “Megatel is not aware of any OSHA complaints at the SoHo development.”

It is unclear if there have been any complaints regarding any other Megatel sites.

“Shortly after the collapse, a woman was seen removing Megatel signs from the surrounding area,” the Dallas Morning News said. “An employee who answered the phone for Megatel Homes hung up and subsequent calls went unanswered.”