Hundreds evacuated after collapse in downtown BK

BROOKLYN - A partial building collapse at a property owned by the Atlantic Yards developer forced the evacuation of hundreds of people Thursday.

Fire officials say workers were performing asbestos abatement at 800 Pacific St., the site of the former Ward's Bakery, before the collapse. "I seen guys on the roof and the next thing [you] know, bam it shook the whole block and our building," witness Anthony Fuller said.

While officials say there is no danger of asbestos getting into the air, structural problems are threatening a homeless shelter next door.

The Department of Homeless Services say 280 people have been evacuated and will not be allowed back in for at least one night, worrying occupants. "The first thing I did was grab my 3-month-old daughter ... I got nowhere to go, nowhere to live," an evacuee said.

Sam Backer owns the shelter and believes Nets owner and developer Forest City Ratner may have caused structural damage to his property on purpose. "My family strongly believes this is a play by Bruce Ratner trying to muscle us out of the neighborhood," Backer said.

The Department of Buildings has ordered Forest City Ratner to install sidewalk scaffolding.

No one was injured in the incident, but several nearby cars were damaged.

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