Denver firefighters free worker pinned by partially collapsed ceiling during school renovation work

Man pinned under rubble for about 1 hour

DENVER - Denver firefighters freed a construction worker who was trapped when part of a ceiling collapsed on him during renovation work at the old William Byers Junior High School in Denver on Thursday afternoon.

It took fire crews about an hour to free the man because they had to painstakingly shore up an unstable wall to avoid further collapse, said Denver fire spokesman Mark Watson.

"He was alert, he was talking. He actually congratulated everybody once they pulled him out," Watson said.

Fire crews were called at 1:48 p.m. to the three-story school at South Pearl Street and East Bayaud Avenue.

The construction worker and two colleagues were working in a small, second-story room on the northwest side of the building.

The ceiling partially collapsed, bringing down plaster and "very  large chunks with really heavy concrete" on the man, Watson said. The other two workers weren't trapped.

"He was pinned pretty badly," Watson added.

After reinforcing the shaky wall, firefighters pulled the man out about 2:45 p.m., Watson said.

A Denver Post photo showed the man giving a thumps up as he was carried on a stretcher to an ambulance.

"We're just lucky that nobody was really seriously hurt and that things turned out the way they did," Watson said.