Northwest Fire District crews were dispatched to a reported building collapse at 3912 W. Ina Road shortly after 2:00pm on Monday. The shopping center (Embassy Plaza Shopping Center)) is a strip mall style shopping center that has two main buildings. The buildings are connected by the breezeway where the incident occurred. A full alarm was dispatched to the scene including specialized building collapse equipment on board the technical rescue truck. When the first engine arrived within 4 minutes they were able to quickly determine that drywall had collapsed from the breezeway roof area but that no structural damage or collapse had occurred.
Three of the suits of the strip mall along the breezeway area are occupied by the Department of Economic Security (DES). 4 people that were waiting in the breezeway for appointments at the DES office were struck by the thick drywall that fell approximately 15 feet down from the ceiling area. 2 of the patients (a 35 year-old female and a 58 year-old male) were treated at the scene and transported to a local hospital for treatment of injuries that are described as minor and non-life threatening. A third person was treated at the scene by Northwest Fire paramedics and released. The fourth person struck by the drywall denied any injury.
Building officials from the Town of Marana believe that wind gusts may have brought air into roof vents causing a pressure increase in the attic space of the breezeway. This pressure increase from winds in the area may have caused weakened and aged drywall to loosen from the nails that are used to install the drywall causing it to fall. Water from recent rains was ruled out as a cause of the collapse.
The breezeway was secured by caution tape to prevent anyone from entering the hazard area. Property management staff was at the scene and working with investigators from the Town of Marana Building Department to determine the cause and begin the process of demolition and repair of the affected area. The DES offices will remain open. Staff from the office has asked that clients use the rear entrance of the offices until repairs are made.