Firefighter dies after walkway collapse

The firefighter died at a local hospital.

Update: 5:15 p.m., February 22, 2014

A Columbia firefighter died after responding to a walkway collapse on the Mizzou campus about 4 a.m. on Saturday.

23 year veteran Lt. Bruce Britt died in the hospital after concrete crushed his body.

University Village resident Ghazwan Alwan called 911 after he heard the walkway shift from his apartment. Alwan was one of the last to speak to Britt.

Alwan said, â??I warned him, by the way. I was telling him it was too dangerous to walk over this part and everything fell down.â??

Some of the 18 people, including children, had to escape through windows and climb down ladders. Columbia Fire Chief Chuck Witt would not answer questions at a news conference, but said he spent the entire morning supporting Lt. Brittâ??s family.

Witt said, â??We also continue to work towards the support of the Columbia Fire Department family to overcome this tragedy.â??

While University officials mourn the loss of Britt, they are thankful no one was hurt at University Village. Crews immediately made repairs and inspected all of the apartment buildings for any safety concerns. Residents said the University owned apartment complex that was built in 1956 has problems with ventilation and warped doors that are hard to lock. MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin ordered more campus safety inspections.

Loftin said, â??Weâ??ve already inspected all residential life facilities belonging to the University of Missouri. Beginning Monday, we will look in fact at all facilities owned and leased by University to ensure their structural integrity.â??

Evacuees are staying at local hotels. University officials do not know when they can move back into their apartments.

City Manager Mike Matthes ordered flags at all city buildings to be flown half mast for 30 days in honor of Brittâ??s sacrifice.

Columbia citizens are encouraged to lower their flags in a show of support and gratitude.

Original Story:

A Columbia firefighter has died after responding to a walkway collapse at University Village apartments on Providence Road.

Lieutenant Bruce Britt, a 23 year veteran, was pronounced dead at University Hospital.

MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin released a statement.

"My heart is heavy this morning as my deepest condolences go to the family of the brave City of Columbia firefighter who was fatally injured in the line of duty helping keep the residents of University Village Apartments safe.

We are grateful that, due to the efforts of this firefighter and others, no residents were injured. My deepest gratitude goes out to everyone who assisted during this emergency."