3 Killed in Aircraft Hangar Collapse in Idaho

Nine more were injured in the Boise incident, with five reported to be in critical condition.

Three people were killed when the framework of a 39,000-square-foot hangar gave way on Wednesday in Boise, Idaho. [Photo: USGS]

Authorities in Boise, Idaho, are trying to determine what caused the collapse of an airplane hangar under construction. Three people were killed when the framework of the 39,000-square-foot building gave way around 5 p.m. MST on Wednesday. Nine others were injured and, as of Thursday morning, five of those were listed in critical condition at Boise-area hospitals.

According to information from the Boise Fire Department, a rigid steel frame had been erected, and the workers were in the process of connecting structural components when something gave way, bringing down the structure and one crane.

A witness working nearby told local media that it sounded like a loud whine, and when he turned to look for the source of the noise, he saw the four-story building coming down.

Aaron Hummel, operations chief for the Boise Fire Department, noted that the first step was to make sure the wreckage was stabilized while emergency response personnel searched for the workers trapped inside. Hummel told the media “it was a pretty global collapse" and that many of the workers had been suspended on platforms at the time of the incident, which made rescues very challenging.

According to Boise city records, Big D Builders Inc. is the contractor for the construction project. The hangar is located next to the existing FBO, Jackson Jet Center, at Boise Airport (KBOI). The jet center specializes in corporate aircraft maintenance and charters.

Big D Builders specializes in commercial construction such as corporate hangars. Its website has photographs of hangars under construction. Phone calls to Big D Builders and emails to Jackson Jet Center were not immediately returned.

According to city officials, investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have spent the better part of the last 18 hours on scene. The area is still cordoned off from the public.

The city noted this is a privately owned building, and there have been no impacts to airport operations. The names of the three people killed have not yet been released.

“[Wednesday’s] tragic news of the hangar collapse was absolutely heartbreaking for our airport team and for our community,” said Rebecca Hupp, Boise Airport director. “Today we are thinking about the families that lost loved ones, our neighbors at Jackson Jet Center, and their contractor. Life is precious and every day is a gift.”

Boise fire chief Mark Niemyer called it a tragic day for the Boise community.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families and loved ones affected by this incident,” said Niemeyer. “I commend the actions of all the first responders for their quick and professional response rescuing victims and caring for patients in a chaotic and very dangerous environment.”

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean also praised the actions of the first responders and emergency response teams for their quick actions.

"Our community is facing a profound loss after the hangar collapse,” McLean said. “Our thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones and those who are awaiting news on those still in critical conditions. We owe a debt of gratitude to our first responders and emergency response teams for their quick, compassionate, and professional actions last night and into [Thursday], and we hold everyone involved in our hearts."

Hummel also echoed the sentiments of the mayor and fire chief. “This was an incredibly large emergency response involving many agencies from around our community,” he said. “We would like to thank all our public safety partners who assisted.” 

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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