UPDATED: Retaining wall collapse at bus stop on Oak Bay Avenue may be due to wet weather

Evacuated residents allowed to return home, but roadway will remain closed off for a couple days while site is investigated

UPDATE: Evacuated residents allowed to return home and debris is being cleared.

Occupants of a building were evacuated this morning after a retaining wall collapsed at the corner of Oak Bay Avenue and Fort Street.

A fence, trees and what looked like electric wires were protruding from the dirt in front of the building, which was spread across the south side of Oak Bay Avenue.

Fraser Work, the City’s director of engineering, said its too early to say exactly how long the road and sidewalk will be out of service. City officials and engineers continue to investigate the site and determine whether there is risk of any further part of the wall, or the structure above it, could collapse. The walls are old and could have been damaged by rainfall, and the drainage of the wall will be assessed.

“We don’t want to take any material away from the bottom of that wall, because in some cases they may actually be holding up and retaining some of that upland site,” he said. “What we’re looking at is potentially a runoff site. It’s obviously raining very heavily through the night, and that seems a factor that has to be considered.”

As the retaining wall collapse is in a high-traffic area, there was concern that there could be someone under the rubble. VicPD sent a K9 unit into investigate, and no casualties were discovered.

Ricky de Souza called the police to report the incident after his vehicle was struck by material as he drove east on Oak Bay Avenue just after 8 a.m.

“I heard kind of a boom and a loud noise,” he said. “Whether it was an explosion or a boom or an accident, who knows. I couldn’t see. It was all of a sudden just dirt and rocks, and something striking my car.”

DeSouza pulled over to safety, got out and directed traffic away from the pile of rubble before police arrived a short time later, he said.

“People walk right in front of there. [My] first concern is someone may have been under that rubble.”

The buildings in the area have been evacuated and emergency services are waiting on engineers to figure out next step.

 

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