Questions About Indiana Stage Collapse Linger

Safety questions linger about the deadly collapse of a concert stage at the Indiana State Fair.

The Indiana State Fair reopened Monday with a memorial service to honor the victims of the collapse, which killed five people.

State fair officials have not said whether the stage and rigging were inspected before Saturday's show. Fair spokesman Andy Klotz said initially that the state fire marshal's office was responsible for inspections, but he backtracked Monday, saying he wasn't sure whose job it is.

Saturday night's accident happened when a wind gust estimated at 60 to 70 mph toppled the roof and the metal scaffolding holding lights and other equipment. The stage collapsed onto a crowd of concert-goers awaiting a show by the country group Sugarland.

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An investigation continues into last night's collapse of a grandstand stage at the Indiana State Fair, where the country duo Sugarland was scheduled to perform.

Rigging and a lighting system covering the stage tilted forward and fell onto the crowded front rows following a burst of wind believed to be 60-to-70 miles per hour.

At least five people were killed, four of them pronounced dead in the immediate aftermath. Dozens of other people remain hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

The accident is being investigated by the Indiana Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the state fire marshal's office.

Gov. Mitch Daniels calls the collapse an "unthinkable tragedy," adding that the wind burst was a fluke that no one could have predicted.

The chief meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Indiana says the gust of wind was far stronger than gusts measured in other areas of the fairgrounds.

A timeline released by Indiana State Police shows Indiana State Fair staff contacted the National Weather Service multiple times before the collapse.

The stage collapsed just before 9 p.m. The timeline shows fair staff contacted the weather service four times between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. The weather service said at 8 p.m. that a storm with hail and 40 mph winds was expected to hit the fairgrounds at 9:15 p.m., and fair staff began making evacuation plans. A gust of 60 to 70 mph hit the stage at 8:49 p.m.

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  • by porkchop Location: g'ville on Aug 15, 2011 at 04:10 AM
    You are spot on, Unthinkable. I've played on a few of these stages, and that structure is designed with portability in mind. I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere in the manufacturer's specs there is a disclaimer noting no assumption of liability during ANY wind event.
  • by Unthinkable? on Aug 14, 2011 at 10:44 PM
    I think not! Thunderstorms are common in this season. Microbursts can and do happen. Outdoor touring staging is lightweight (structurally weaker than could be used) for travel & portability. Factor in an excessive number of lights and several massive arrays of powered speakers (including a flying monitor/side fill system) and you've got a very precarious situation. It's not easy to just break the whole system down. If they were smart they would have brought the main speakers down to the ground. The resulting attachment to the ground might have helped the structure stay up, instead of helping pull it down. I'm sure this event will set new precedents regarding the restrictions on this type of staging. It was bound to happen one day. Just so happened that the band WASN'T onstage when it fell down. Just think, they could have started playing. (they were lucky)

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