New London — A section of Bank Street was closed for several hours Wednesday night as police, fire and city building officials investigated the cause of several panes of glass popping out of a fourth-floor window at 27-29 Bank St., crashing onto the sidewalk below and narrowly missing two pedestrians.
Police closed the street to traffic between Golden and State streets for more than two hours. The left lane of Bank Street and the sidewalk directly in front of the building will remain closed at least through Thursday morning until further safety precautions can be taken, acting Building Official Jamie Salmon said.
Salmon, who examined the building on a fire bucket ladder, said it appeared a buildup of water on the roof of the four-story building caused a portion of the plaster ceiling on the fourth floor to collapse, causing the window panes to pop out.
One firefighter on a ladder truck checked all 12 multi-paneled windows of the three upper floors of the four-story building to ensure no other panes were loose.
Battalion Chief Marc A. Melanson said the building's red brick façade also had several cracks and could cause a safety hazard. Melanson said he would only have his firefighters examine the building from the outside due to the safety risks associated with the long-vacant building. Some of the building's windows were partly propped open.
Ambiorix Rondon said he was walking with a friend past the building toward State Street when a pane crashed to the ground behind him. Neither person was injured.
"I heard a small pop and a 'whoosh' as it went through the air and it landed 3 feet behind me," Rondon said. "I'm lucky I didn't slow down. I was this close from getting cut in half."
Barry Neistat, who owns Muddy Waters Café across the street, said he called police after Rondon reported what had happened. Neistat said the building has been vacant for at least two decades, and was formerly retailer J. Solomon Inc., which moved up the street several years ago.
Online records show the building was last purchased in September 2010 by Five Star Investment LLC for about $94,000. The property was most recently assessed at $186,060.
Salmon said efforts would be made Thursday to contact the property owner. Otherwise, Salmon said an engineer would be brought in to assess next steps for the building.
"We'll know better by noon," he said.