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Inspector: Rusted nails may have led to deck collapse

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OCEAN ISLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- A deck collapse turned a vacation dream home into a nightmare in Ocean Isle Beach last night.

As investigators pick through debris they are left wondering what can be done to prevent things like this in the future.

Investigators say the deck was built to spec in 2003. Just 10 years after the last nail was driven, it is now in shambles.

Around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday 25 family members were standing on the deck to take a photo, when the planks below them collapsed leaving them all in need of help from first responders who train every day for this situation.

"Just a few weeks ago we held a multi-agency collapse training exercise, where we trained on the techniques that would have been useful if this had been a more complicated event," Brunswick County Emergency Service Director Anthony Marzano said. "Not only reaching, accessing, and cutting through materials to get to patients but managing the multiple number of patients that were involved."

As the injured were on their way to the hospital, investigators were hard at work trying to determine the cause of the accident.

One Brunswick County building inspector, who is not a part of the investigation, says rusty nails he found in the debris could be the smoking gun.

A town leader says weathering is something that must be considered.

"We have an environment here that is very harsh to the building and to the building industry," OIB Mayor Pro Tem Dean Walters said. "Whether you're talking about salt, wind or a lot of people moving around and stuff like this so anything could have happened. That's something that's not covered under the building codes under our authority."

As crews work to clear the debris they are looking for clues about how this could have been prevented and to try and keep something like this from ever happening again.

"There's a lot that could be changed, and it as to come from Raleigh," Walters said. "They need to look at the building code and adapt it to the region, because we have a whole different environment down here, and we need to look closely at what the needs are as far as building for safety."

The building inspector we spoke with says that one step that could be made in coastal communities is to require homes to be built with stainless steel nails, because they don't rust. There is, of course, considerable cost involved with that.

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