Questions surround trench collapse that left 2 workers trapped in Chesterfield Township

Crews work for 3 hours to rescue men from collapsed trench

By Priya Mann - Reporter , Derick Hutchinson

CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Officials are still investigating Tuesday after fire and rescue workers freed two men who became trapped Monday when the trench they were working in collapsed.

The men were trying to shore up the foundation of a home next to a canal, but the soil might have been softer than they thought, causing the collapse.

There was no work at the site Tuesday as Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators searched for answers. Meanwhile, the Chesterfield Township fire chief said he thinks his department should be paid for the response.

About 60 firefighters from across Macomb County were called to the scene Monday to rescue the men, who were trapped eight feet below surface level.

"Those are outside the scope of what we normally do," Chesterfield Township fire Chief Doug Charbonneau said. "Those are outside the scope of what the tax base normally pays for. So there will be billings coming in for the different services."

Nearby departments had to bring in extra firefighters as crews were diverted to the trench rescue. All the manpower, heavy machinery, specialized tools and lumber racks up costs.

"Based on the manpower and equipment, I would guess the range could be up to $50,000 to $100,000," Charbonneau said.

The trench is at a home being built close to Lake St. Clair on Jefferson Road near Hall Road.

Local 4 reached out to the builder, Titanium construction. The owner said the company hired a local contractor for excavating work. The fire chief said it's not clear yet who will have to pay for the rescue.

"It could be Titanium construction, an insurance company, the contractors, if they were actually contractors, if they have insurance, so the billing will be passed along to them any way that we can," Charbonneau said.

On Tuesday, OSHA was at the scene investigating. The building department and DPW are also looking into any potential violations.

Crews will fill in the hole to ensure the area is safe. In the meantime, the Macomb County Technical Rescue team and local fire departments are still tallying up their bills.

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