By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A prominent structural engineer says given the magnitude of the concerns — and the cracking noises coming from that portion of the building — putting a pause on condo collapse search-and-rescue operations is the only way to ensure more people aren’t lost.

“When you’re smart, if you hear cracking noises, you get the hell away from it under so you can understand what’s going on,” said Allyn Kilsheimer, putting it bluntly.

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Having investigated close to 30 collapses in the past, Kilsheimer knows what’s at stake.

“You want to make sure you’re not putting the guys doing the emergency work at any more risk than they already are,” said Kilsheimer.

The structural engineer with decades of experience was hired by the town of Surfside to find out what went so devastatingly wrong at Champlain Towers South.

But now the portion of that tower that is still standing may not be stable enough to ensure safety for the first responders working the pile. That prompted a pause in the search for victims in the concrete rubble overnight.

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure safety of our first responders is paramount and we will resume our search-and-rescue operations as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

Kilsheimer said there’s no way to know how long the delay will last.

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“Depends on what they find, if they can find anything,” Kilsheimer said.

State engineers were on site assessing the risk Thursday.

“Concern assessments included six to 12 inches of movement in a large column hanging from the structure that could fall and cause damage to the support columns in the sub-terrain garage area,” said Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky.

According to Kilsheimer, “If it’s a lateral movement, that’s a substantial movement.”

Kilsheimer said while not necessarily unusual after a collapse like this, he understands the race against time and the blow families will suffer with the search now halted.

“Wo while it’s terrible, you have to make the best judgements you can,” Kilsheimer said. “It could fall over. If it falls over, you don’t know which direction it’s gonna fall over. And certainly nobody needs to try to find even more folks in that pile of debris.”

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Kilsheimer said one of the biggest concerns with an unstable building is wind. That’s even more pressing with a possible tropical storm on the horizon. Team