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Implosion of former hospital tower likely to be fast and furious

This will be an event, like Mick Jagger strutting across the stage at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Nik Wallenda walking a tightrope over Niagara Falls or the NHL’s first Winter Classic coming to Buffalo.

But you’d better not blink if you want to see it. And you will have to get up early. This event will last only 10 to 15 seconds, the time it takes to bring a building to its knees.

This public spectacle – the implosion of the 11-story tower of the former Millard Fillmore Hospital at Gates Circle – will occur about 15 minutes before dawn Saturday. Traffic will be severely restricted. It could be chilly and drizzly, with temperatures below 50. The public’s closest view will be almost a block away. And some dust could get in your eyes.

But some people just want to be there anyway.

“If you haven’t seen one, it’s cool,” said John Yensan, president of Ontario Specialty Contracting, the company bringing down the building.

Saturday’s implosion will be a rare event, believed to be the fifth such large public implosion in Western New York in the last 20 years.

The event probably will attract hundreds, perhaps even a few thousand, people.

Here’s a quick guide to Saturday’s scheduled event:


About 7 a.m. Saturday.


A series of horn blasts will precede the implosion, at 6:50, 6:55 and 6:59 a.m., followed by a 10-second loudspeaker countdown.


At Gates Circle, along Delaware Avenue in Buffalo’s Delaware District.

Amount of explosives:

Between 300 and 500 pounds.

Direction of destruction:

From the southwest corner to the northeast.

If weather doesn’t cooperate:

Implosion will be pushed back later in the day, or possibly to the same time Sunday morning.

Weather that would imperil implosion:

Low cloud ceiling, below 2,000 feet, that could create excessive noise and result in property damage.

Where to watch:

Starting about 500 feet away, north of the site, on Delaware Avenue just south of West Delavan Avenue.

Special viewing area:

Invited neighbors, special guests and reporters will watch from the parking ramp southeast of site.

Road closings:

Starting at 3 a.m. Saturday, Delaware Avenue will be closed between West Ferry Street and West Delavan Avenue. Other road closings will include parts of Linwood Avenue, West Delavan, Chapin Parkway, Lafayette Avenue, Lancaster Avenue, Auburn Avenue and Cleveland Avenue.

Streets will be reopened when officials declare the area safe, probably an hour or two after implosion.


At 6 a.m., Buffalo police and security officials will set up a “hard perimeter” area, to restrict pedestrian travel until after the dust settles.

Settling the dust:

On-site trucks will spray water on the downed building immediately after the implosion.

Neighbors’ precautions:

People living within 500 feet are encouraged to close and seal windows and doors and turn off their air-conditioning units.

Number for neighbors to call afterward, if they have cleanup or debris issues:


Who shouldn’t come:

Anyone with lung ailments, asthma or immunity problems.

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