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Landmark racetrack building under demolition collapses; two dead

May 16, 1997

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. (AP) _ The landmark 1920s Biscayne Kennel Club collapsed today as demolition workers prepared to bring the racetrack down, killing two workers and injuring three.

The demolition work had been under way for weeks on the blue-and-white covered grandstand and clubhouse with the greyhound logo next to the red Biscayne Kennel Club sign. The club closed in 1995.

The structure, just off Interstate 95 north of Miami, was supposed to be taken down today in preparation for sale of the site to adjacent Barry University. The workers were cutting away main supports when the aluminum and steel structure gave way just before 9 a.m.

``I heard this morning a big noise,″ said a neighbor, Consuela Antonas. ``I came out right away. I said, `Biscayne is falling down.′ It was like a machine gun _ bop-bop-bop-bop-bop.″

The trapped workers were located quickly because the ``pancake collapse″ of the structure left room for rescue workers to maneuver between the trusses, said fire-rescue Lt. Roman Bas.

The three injured workers were in stable condition, hospital officials said. The two bodies remained inside the building as rescue workers tried to determine a safe way to extricate them, a process that could take hours.

The investigation was turned over to Metro-Dade homicide investigators, a step described as routine in such accidents. The identities of the victims were not immediately released.

Traffic along Interstate 95 slowed as commuters gawked at the destruction.

Barry University spokeswoman Mireya Novo said the school expected to wrap up the sale in June and build dormitories and possibly an elementary school once the dog track was cleared away.

The work, which had been going on for more than a month, was done by Cuyahoga Wrecking Corp. of Opa-locka. An employee at the company’s office said she couldn’t talk about the collapse.

The dog track has been one of the Miami area’s most familiar landmarks since it opened before 10,000 fans in November 1926. Of the nation’s dog tracks, only Derby Lane, which opened in 1925 in St. Petersburg, is older.

In late 1995, with attendance down to 1,000 a race, the track closed, a victim of increasing competition and rising expenses.

``Biscayne was a landmark, not only for the village (of Miami Shores) but for the whole city of Miami,″ said Miami Shores Mayor Mary Ros Agosta. ``It looked like an earthquake had struck.″

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