Three men rescued after stairs collapse at Appleton bar

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Three men were rescued after a stairwell collapsed at a bar in Appleton.

It happened early Friday morning at the Durty Leprechaun, 343 W College Ave.

The Appleton Fire Department arrived to find stairs had collapsed to a "sub-basement" about 25 feet below the actual basement. Three men were trapped.

"Due to the extremely tight confines and depth to the sub-basement, a ground ladder could not be deployed to gain access to the sub-basement," the Appleton Fire Department says.

The trapped men told firefighters that they could see a second set of stairs on the west side of the sub-basement. However, firefighters were unable to reach the men that way.

"One of the individuals was down on the platform. He ended up being OK. Two of the individuals were on the stairwell that collapsed, and they dropped between 20 feet and 25 feet," says Battalion Chief Joe Strauss, Appleton Fire Dept.

Crews then turned to a "4:1 mechanical advantage rope rigging system" to lower a firefighter into the sub-basement. One-at-a-time, the firefighter put a harness on the trapped men and raised them out of the sub-basement.

"This area was about 25 feet below the basement level. A firefighter went down there, did a medical assessment of the individuals, then one-by-one attached a harness to them and they were hoisted on out," Strauss says.

Two of the men were taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

"We were told one of the individuals was actually one of the owners," Strauss says. "Don't know the status of the two other individuals."

"We're told by the arriving crews it took approximately one hour from the time they were there, did the assessment, went around trying to find another access point to try to get down to the basement before being able to set up the rigging system to go down to get the individuals," Strauss says.

The firefighters do training for this type of situation.

"All of our firefighters are trained in ropes and knots and rigging systems, so all of our firefighters that were down there were able to help out with the system," Strauss says.

Firefighters did not say what caused the stairs to collapse.

"In a number of the downtown areas, people might not be aware of it, there are multiple levels in basements, in the downtown area, in different structures," Strauss says.

The call came at about 1:50 a.m.