VIDEO: Pell City smokestack collapses on excavator

PELL CITY, Ala. (WIAT) — UPDATE: Wednesday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched an investigation into the incident where the Avondale Mills smokestack collapsed on an excavator.

An official from the Department of Labor told WIAT 42 that a compliance officer will be interviewing witnesses, and looking at the damage at the scene to determine what went wrong.

Workers removed the excavator from the scene Wednesday, and the huge impact of the smokestack was clearly visible from when it fell on the excavator. It appears the roof of the machine saved contractor Tim Phifer’s life.

WIAT 42 also learned Phoenix LLC is the name of the contracting company that handled the demolition project. As we learn any new updates to this investigation we’ll be sure to keep you up to date.

ORIGINAL: One man is lucky to be alive after an iconic smokestack in Pell City finally came down.

The man was buried under the bricks and walked away from the rubble just happy to be alive.

Tuesday morning, there was plenty of excitement to see the Avondale Mills landmark come down. Pell City residents young and old came out to witness the rare demolition.

The smokestack didn’t go easily. After two attempts to demolish it with explosives, Tim Phifer did some risky digging to finally get the landmark down–but it came at a near deathly cost.

One angle via drone video from Sky Bama shows the breathtaking moment:

Tim said as things quickly got dark, he was thinking: “stay in the hole, that cab was made for that thing turn over on top of it, I was safer inside the cab then coming out of it.”

Many say it is miraculous that the 20 year explosives vet made it out, and he agrees.

“God blesses me,” Phifer said to WIAT 42.

Phifer said even after seeing how dangerous it was, he would do it all again.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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