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Unstable Structure Forces Evacuation of Gala for Theater Company

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TWC News: Unstable Structure Forces Evacuation of Gala for Theater Company
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A gala for a theater company took a dramatic turn in Manhattan Monday when the building had to be evacuated.

The company was having its annual gala in an event space on the Lower East Side Monday when the balcony and support beams buckled and cracked.

The New York City Fire Department cleared the building, evacuating almost 500 people.

The Department of Buildings inspected and placed an order to vacate.

No one was injured.

"We heard a horrible crack and some shouts, and then everything changed suddenly," said Sam Pinkleton, the event's director.

"It could've been a lot of serious injuries," said Deputy Chief Jim Hodgens of the FDNY. "We were very fortunate that we were on the scene. We investigated, and again, a potential disaster was averted."

"The most important thing, obviously, is that the fire department did what they had to do, got people out and everybody's safe," said Cynthia Flowers, executive director of SoHo Rep. "But it's just disappointing for us because it's such an important night for us and such a celebration for the company.

SoHo Rep, which was hosting the event, continued part of the gala outside.

The group said it will try to hold the fundraiser again.

It wants to raise $250,000.

The building, a former synagogue, dates from the 1840s.

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