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Village building crumbles

'A brick falling from that height will kill you.'

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February 01, 2012 - Ortonville- It wasn't snow or rain that was falling in the village in the early morning hours of Jan. 31, but something much heavier and with the potential to be lethal— bricks.

Village Manager John Lyons and Department of Public Works employees blocked off the sidewalk in front of the Brandon Underwriters building, 422 Mill St., after approximately 15 bricks were found to have fallen to the sidewalk from the top of the building's facade.

"The wall bowed away from the main structure, causing a hazard," said Lyons. "It's a safety issue when bricks are falling from (20) feet in the air."

Brandon Underwriters owner Bruce Eavenson bought and renovated the building in 1982. The two-story structure was constructed around 1900.

Eavenson was out of town Tuesday, but employees from Harrell Building Company in Clarkston were working Tuesday afternoon to remove unsafe portions of the building to what would be considered a safe level for pedestrians to pass by, said Jeff Harrell, owner of the construction company.

He explained that the bricks likely began crumbling due to water getting behind the brick, freezing and expanding the wall, then quickly thawing.

"Mortar deteriorates and this is a problem with older buildings," said Harrell, who noted that the D.L. Bonner Jewelry building across the street is also in need of attention. "A brick falling on you from that height will kill you."

Harrell employees planned to dismantle the top of the Brandon Underwriters building brick by brick until it is deemed safe to use scaffolding, eventually taking off 8 feet of the front elevation, and 4-6 feet on the sides, going back about 20 feet.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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