DIAMOND BEACH — Two Mile Inn restaurant reopened Friday at 5 p.m.
Eighteen persons were injured July 7 just before 7:30 p.m. when the floor of the Crab House Restaurant, which adjoins Two Mile Inn Restaurant, collapsed in a V-shape.
At the time, Conrad Johnson, Wildwood fire chief, described the incident as a “partial collapse of the interior floor or the bar, kitchen and service area.”
In an exclusive Friday afternoon interview, Jim Salasin, a partner in the restaurants, said Two Mile Inn reopened when it was determined the restaurant was safe.
“It’s separate in operation, separate in structure,” he said.
Salasin said the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and local authorities wanted to examine both restaurants.
“We had structural engineers do a very thorough and extensive and exhaustive investigation into the foundation and the structure of the Two Mile Inn,” he said.
He said Lower Township’s Construction Official Jim Cannon gave his approval to reopen Two Mile Inn based on the report from the structural engineers hired by the restaurants owners. Salasin said the engineers provided their report to DCA.
The Crab House is closed and boarded up. Salasin said the engineers would return next week to evaluate “what went wrong.”
It is not known if the Crab House can be repaired or will require demolition.
Chris Donnelly DCA spokesperson issued a statement July 12: “They (engineer and investigator) have determined that reinforcing bars in the concrete planks, underneath the structure, rusted out due to deterioration from environmental conditions. A section of the planks broke and collapsed.”
Salasin said the report reflected the “probable cause,” of the collapse. He said it is believed a slight fissure in the concrete slab was infiltrated with saltwater, which rusted steel cables within. He said if the cable becomes weaker until it cannot support any kind of load and snaps.
A sound like gunfire was reported at the time of the collapse. Salasin said that was probably the sound of the cables snapping.
He said it was “undetectable hidden decay.”
Salasin said his group are the third owners of the restaurants and did not construct the buildings.
The engineers certified the Two Mile Inn was safe and the construction of the two buildings was not the same.
Salasin said 80 to 90 percent of employees displaced by the closing of the Crab House were placed in other restaurants. He said he was pleased to reopen Two Mile Inn to get those employees back to work.
“We were very, very fortunate that nobody was seriously hurt or killed,” he said.
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