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Implosion of Millard Fillmore Hospital set for 7 a.m. Saturday

Ten to 15 seconds.

That’s how long it’s expected to take for the last brick to hit the ground when the 11-story main tower at the old Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo is imploded Saturday morning.

Details about the implosion were revealed Tuesday morning during a news conference at the nearby Osinski Parking Ramp on Linwood Avenue at Balcom Street, just southeast of the hospital, which will host media and residents of the immediate area for the event. While encouraging residents to watch the event on TV for safety reasons, officials also said a public viewing area will be set up at Delaware and West Delavan avenues.

“If you haven’t seen one, it’s cool,” John Yensan, president of Ontario Specialty Contracting, said about the pending implosion. The Buffalo-based company, founded in 1997, is working with Dykon Explosive Demolition Corp. of Tulsa, Okla.

Yensan said between 300 and 500 pounds of explosives will be used. Shaped charges will sever the structural steel columns and dynamite on each column will provide a “kick” to bring down the building in its footprint at Gates Circle.

A cloud ceiling below 2,000 feet or thunderstorms could delay the implosion, but it still will be done Saturday – the scheduled time is 7 a.m. – or Sunday around the same time. “The low ceiling would hold the concussion from the explosion closer to the surface,” Yensan said, as well as increase the risk of property damage.

The collapse will begin at the southwest corner and progress toward the northeast – away from Gates Circle, Yensan said.

Nearby residents should have windows and doors closed and sealed, Yensan said. Air-conditioning units should be sealed, as well.

Preparations with residents closest to the site will begin Friday. “We ask that they do not stand in front of the windows immediately facing the hospital,” Yensan said.

Work on the implosion began about a month ago. Holes have been cut into the building where the charges and dynamite will be placed.

Tuesday morning, there still were some windows in place on the front of the structure.

An eight-foot chainlink fence, covered with a nylon barrier, already is in place along Gates Circle. A 30-foot nylon barrier will be installed before the implosion, Yensan said.

“There will be some dust, depending on the wind direction that day,” Yensan said. But it should mostly settle to the ground within 15 to 20 minutes afterward.

The dust, aside from what’s carried away by the wind, should stay within a 100-foot radius of the structure, according to Yensan. “The drier it is, the quicker it dissipates,” he said.

Fire hoses also will be used to control the dust.

“As this building comes down, it will give way to exciting new construction,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown.

Parts of Delaware Avenue and other streets around the site will be closed to traffic beginning at 3 a.m. Saturday, and police will set up a perimeter around the site and block any access or exit from 6 a.m. until the area is deemed safe after the implosion.

Total cleanup at the site could take up to three months. Groundbreaking then will be held next year for Canterbury Woods, a $150 million mixed-use community to be developed by TM Montante Development.

“The legacy of the former hospital means a great deal to many people,” said Thomas M. Montante, chief executive officer. “Buffalo is going through a significant transition.”

The parking ramp on which hundreds of people are expected to view the implosion will be renovated to provide parking for the new development, Montante said.