NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Owners of a New Orleans hotel that partly collapsed during construction said Tuesday they are planning to implode the remaining floors.
City officials said the implosion will take place in about nine weeks.
"We cannot find anyone to say that it's safe to destroy it in any other manner," Fire Chief Tim McConnell told reporters. He said contracts could be in place as early as next week.
According to a news release from 1030 Canal Development LLC, multiple engineers have said implosion is the safest way to demolish the project. Parts of its upper stories collapsed Oct. 12 , killing three workers.
The cleanup after the implosion will take about three more months, McConnell said.
"The City of New Orleans will remain in control of this throughout the process," McConnell said. "The contractors are required to file for permits that require our approval every step of the way."
The nine-week timeline puts the implosion at about the time the College Football Championship is being hosted in New Orleans on Jan. 13.
Meanwhile, McConnell said the city's No. 1 priority remains victim recovery.
"We will have to do a recovery after it comes down," he said, adding that they've been in close contact with the family of the two victims' whose bodies are still within the unstable wreckage.
The company's statement said it has hired contractors Kolb Grading LLC and its affiliate Dem/Tech and is working with the city and other agencies to finish the demolition plan. It says consultants will do seismic monitoring of nearby businesses and neighborhoods.
McConnell said the city is working with the company on a plan to stabilize the crane still leaning against the collapsed site and to set up a protected walkway so the adjacent Saenger Theatre can reopen in early December.
The cause of the collapse remains unknown. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating and, McConnell said, evidence gathering will begin after the building's remains are down.
Lawsuits are already being filed on behalf of some of the more than 20 people injured against the project's owners and contractors.
In a release by they City of New Orleans, officials say that the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) and the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (NOHSEP) will continue to maintain control of the site to ensure public safety throughout demolition operations. The City will also hire an independent engineer to review the project scope and ensure the demolition plan is safe and does not endanger neighboring buildings.
The demolition will be no earlier than mid-January 2020, but a more precise date has not been decided upon.
When it comes to public access in the area, a temporary protected walkway will be put in to allow the Saenger Theatre to reopen in early December. Rampart Street from Iberville to Canal streets and Iberville Street from Burgundy to North Rampart streets will remain closed.
Heightened perimeter fencing has been installed on-site, according to the city, and will remain in place throughout demolition operations. Orleans Parish Sheriff’s officers and private security guards will continue to secure the evacuation zone 24/7 that has already been put in place since the collapse. Residents and visitors are asked to obey signage and security instructions and to stay outside of the evacuated area.
The city says that it is in close communication with the organizers of upcoming events, including Bayou Classic, Allstate Sugar Bowl, and the College Football Playoff National Championship to ensure there are contingency plans in place to address the closures related to the structural collapse.