Tim Wieclawski/Metro Ottawa


Workers set up a barricade at the top of a condominium tower construction pit at 200 Besserer St., where heavy rain caused the southern wall to collapse early yesterday.


Tim Wieclawski/Metro Ottawa

The collapse of the wall sent a parked car tumbling eight metres.

The wall of a construction site on Besserer Street collapsed early yesterday, swallowing a car and forcing the evacuation of residents from several nearby apartment buildings.

Recent rain is being blamed for causing shoring on the south side of the pit to give way shortly before 7 a.m. Sunday. A car parked nearby slid and plunged eight metres into the pit, pulling a small tree and fencing down with it.

Ottawa firefighters responding to the early-morning call descended into the pit to see if anyone had been in the car when it fell, but it was empty. Officials later learned the owners of the car are out of town, said acting district chief John Simpson.

Gillian Barrie is used to waking to the sound of construction emanating from the pit behind her Daly Avenue apartment. Yesterday, however, it was a city police officer who roused her, warning her she had five minutes to evacuate the building because the site — a future 12-storey condominium tower — had collapsed.

Residents at 198 Besserer St. and those in a row of apartments at 97, 113, 115, 117 Daly Avenue had to be evacuated.

An OC Transpo bus was provided for displaced tenants to sit and rest during the evacuation.

Police closed Besserer to vehicle traffic between Cumberland Street and King Edward Avenue.

Laurel Van Dusen was woken by the sound of the collapse at 6:45 a.m. yesterday.

“It sounded like incredibly loud thunder,” she said.

From her balcony east of the pit, Van Dusen couldn’t see that the wall had disintegrated and didn’t connect the noise she’d heard to the incident until a police officer knocked on her door.

Simpson said the pit remained unstable yesterday. Rain was making the soil heavier and not helping to firm things up.

A City of Ottawa engineer and a representative from the Ontario Ministry of Labour inspected the site.

By noon yesterday, all evacuees were allowed to return to their homes except for five residents at 97 Daly. Those people are expected to remain out for at least the next two days.