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By Autumn Parry / The Californian
By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Part of KGET-TV 17's building came crashing down Saturday night, but that didn't stop reporters from putting together the 11 o'clock newscast on time.
Weekend anchor Kelsey Thomas said she was composing a story at the station's 2120 L St. office at about 9:30 p.m. when she heard a loud boom and the lights went out, except for in the editing bay where she was working. Determined to have the piece ready for the late news, Thomas continued to work while another reporter ran out to investigate and called 911.
Bakersfield Fire Department personnel found that a roughly 12-by-40-foot-long portion of the building's second-story soffit, or outdoor ceiling, had collapsed, Battalion Chief Gary Turner said. The crash damaged windows and electrical wires but no one was injured. Still, firefighters searched the debris twice to make sure no one was trapped under rubble.
Fire department personnel evacuated the building and other city workers arrived to survey the damage, Thomas said.
On Sunday, the fallen soffit remained crumpled on the sidewalk on the west side of the building at the corner of L and 22nd streets. The mess of wood, wire and a partially crushed tree was cordoned off with caution tape. Turner said firefighters secured the electrical wires Sunday night and business was allowed to continue as usual.
"Damage to the structure (is) probably set at around $20,000 and the building department is looking into the incident," Turner said. After the collapse, Thomas and her coworkers rushed to put together the 11 p.m. news, including a story about the startling episode.
On Sunday, Thomas said nobody knew what brought the soffit down, though she volunteered that the building was built in 1967 and remodeled in 1997. The day after the collapse, things were back to normal in the office but with more of the station's management around sorting out the minor catastrophe, Thomas said.
"Usually it's pretty quiet here on the weekend. Not this weekend," Thomas said.
-- Californian staff writer Rachel Cook