Saying they are glad nobody was hurt in the collapse of the historic Eggleston Hotel this weekend, firefighters remained “nonetheless disappointed” that they were unable to get any heroic, daring rescues out of the incident.
The vacant and deteriorating Eggleston, once host to a number of the nation’s black entertainers and athletes, collapsed around 5:45 a.m. Saturday in Richmond’s historic Jackson Ward. Because no one was inside the building at the time, Richmond Lt. Fire Marshal Michael M. Strickland said crews were unable to use cool hydraulic cutters, swing axes or have the opportunity to see themselves on the front page of the newspaper pulling and saving a small child from the rubble.
“Something like this only comes around every now and then in a firefighter’s career, so yeah, not being able to be called a hero does get you down a bit,” Strickland said. “Given the circumstances, though, we’re just glad no one was inside the place.”
“I guess,” he quickly added, shrugging his shoulders.
Once arriving on the scene, emergency crews spent nearly three hours in search-and-rescue mode, combing through mangled wood, metal and wires for victims that would never turn up. Firefighters later said it was “with mixed feelings” that the operation was scaled back to a simply cleanup effort and reflection on the loss of an iconic Richmond landmark.
“There wasn’t even a fire or a gas leak, or pregnant woman or grandma or group of schoolkids trapped inside. No nothing,” Strickland said, kicking a corner of the building in frustration. “I don’t even know why we showed up to the stupid thing, to tell you the truth.”
As of press time, firefighters were seen removing their gear and jumping into the remains of the Eggleston to reenact scenes from Backdraft.