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FDNY: High Winds The Culprit For SoHo Scaffolding Collapse

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Strong, gusty winds were being blamed Sunday evening for a scaffolding collapse in SoHo that left six people injured.

As CBS2's Brian Conybeare reported, one woman just walking down the street was buried under falling debris and had to be rescued.

Witnesses posted photos to social media showing wooden planks and metal scaffolding strewn about at the corner of Prince Street and Broadway.

There were frantic moments after the 40-foot section of construction scaffolding suddenly crumpled to the ground at 11:30 a.m. in front of the Artists and Fleas Vendor Market. One woman was across the street inside a Dean & Deluca market.

"Everybody ran from the store to try to remove the rubble before anybody arrived and they got a lot of it off even before the fire department came," one woman told WCBS 880's Ethan Harp.

Will Alston works in the building where it happened.

"It was crazy! It was real crazy!" he said.

Alston rushed to help pull wooden plans and twisted metal off one injured woman who was bleeding from the head.

"First thing I did, I just ran outside to check on her -- but she was basically like hurt really bad," he said. "I was pulling some of the scaffold out."

The FDNY took six people to the hospital – five civilians and a firefighter. All suffered minor injuries, with the most severely injured being a woman whose condition was stable at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue late Sunday, the FDNY said.

Fire officials confirmed the weather was to blame.

"It was very, very breezy; winds coming shooting down out of the north down Broadway and the plywood paneling that acts as a barrier for the workers up on the scaffolding," said FDNY Deputy Chief Chris Boyle. "It acted as a sail and it took the shed down."

City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-5th) said some scaffolding stays in place for years and deteriorates over time.

"The scaffolding is supposed to protect us from buildings, but what's going to protect us from the scaffolding?" Kallos said.

Kallos wants a three- to six-month limit on the overhead construction sheds that seem to be everywhere.

"The scaffolding should not be up so long that it becomes a danger in itself," he said.

The Department of Buildings was investigating the collapse site Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, there was a similar scene at 753 E. 6th St. in the East Village, where another set of scaffolds came loose from a building being worked on there. Fortunately, no one was injured in that case.

But Alston said the SoHo scaffolding looked like an accident waiting to happen.

"That scaffold's been there for a while and it's been shaking," he said. "In the morning, we seen it like shaking a little bit; basically just gave out, you know."

The scaffolding remaining at the scene was secured to the building, and the debris was removed. But with all the pedestrian traffic in the area, firefighters said it was shocking that more people were not hurt.

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