In downtown Austin, shards of glass came tumbling down 48-stories from the Austonian Thursday afternoon.
The Austin Fire Department said 911 callers around 2:30 pm were calling in reporting glass falling from the sky.
Elijah Allred works in down downtown Austin when he said someone come into his restaurant questioning about a red Toyota Camry, the kind of car he drives. “I was like oh no, it's been broken into. They were like no, no it's not broke into, something fell off of the top of the building up there and the back windshield is broken. It's kind of amazing that my car was one of the only ones that got hit, because there were so many other cars in that lot over there,” he said. His car was one of at least two that were damaged by the falling glass.
AFD said specially designed glass is likely the reason no one was injured. Richard Thompson is a Battalion Chief, “Safety glass is designed to come into small pieces, so it does not hurt for people on the ground.” He said while glass falling from skyscrapers is rare, it isn’t the first time it’s happened. A couple blocks away at the W Hotel, a few people were injured when glass fell multiple times back in 2011. The hotel had to be closed and streets around it were blocked off for safety reasons. Investigators found out heat and wind was to blame.
Chief Thompson said they don't know yet what happened at the Austonian, but they don't think it was criminal activity. “No one lives on that floor, and there's no construction on that floor,” he said.
Allred thought it could be the weather. “I've heard that this happens as a result of heat, but I am not sure, I have never seen it personally, but there are rumors that glass is exploding all around Austin as a result of the summers,” he said.
Glass pieces scattered from 2nd Street to the parking lot across from 3rd Street on Congress. The Downtown Alliance helped clean up most of the glass. But some shards remained on the streets, and in a parking lot nearby.