Floor suddenly sinks while hundreds dance at popular Sanford bar

Fire marshal, manager of The Barn say floor wasn't overcrowded

SANFORD, Fla. – The Barn, an original farmhouse in downtown Sanford that has been renovated into a bar and country dance hall, remained closed Monday afternoon for repairs to the dance floor after it sank this weekend.

Hundreds of people were dancing and jumping on the hardwood dance floor at The Barn Saturday night when the floor suddenly buckled, manager Eric Thims said.

"I think the song was called 'Jump,' or something like that, and everyone started doing it at the same time and, like, a 100,000-pound jackhammer on my floor," Thims said. 

People fell to the floor but not through it. No one was injured.

"The floor was very forgiving. It swayed, but none of it broke. None of it popped up. No holes went through. We were blessed," Thims said. "Could have been really ugly because it's a hardwood floor made up of a bunch of strips, and once a strip starts to break, it pokes up and only one barely started to poke up. It was like a wave. It's incredible it didn't come apart." 

Thims said the floor sank down as much as 1 foot in some spots but never split open.

Rescuers responded but no one needed medical attention.

Thims, who said The Barn is more than 100 years old, believes the beams underneath the hardwood floor couldn't handle the stress of the crowd jumping up and down.

Some of the beams cracked.

"It just couldn't handle it," Thims said. "Back in 2013, we had Blake Shelton on the stage. When Blake Shelton moved, everyone moved with him and went side to side. When Upchurch moved, he was a little more energetic. He went up and down, and everyone kept going up and down like a jackhammer."

Upchurch is the Tennessee band that was performing at the time.

Sanford Fire Marshal Matt Minnetto said The Barn had not exceeded capacity Saturday night.

"There was no information that this facility was overcrowded at the time of the floor failure," Minnetto said. "As far as I know, no investigation into overcrowding is going to occur since there was no information ever given on scene that night for overcrowding."

Thims said 900 tickets had been sold for the Upchurch concert, but not everyone had shown up when the floor buckled. Thims said The Barn's legal capacity is more than 900 people.

Sanford Deputy Building Official Steve Fiorey said The Barn cannot reopen until it has been repaired.

"The owners have been advised that there is to be no occupancy (public access) to the building until a structural engineer performs a review of the existing floor system to verify its safety," Fiorey said. "Upon completion of the review, a report of the engineer’s findings will be submitted to the building official. No further decisions on allowing public access to the building will be made until that time."

The Barn is a raised building, so much of the floor is supported by beams underneath.

Thims said he plans to have the beams under the dance floor removed and filled in with concrete so the floor can't sink again.

He estimated The Barn will reopen in two weeks after the work has been completed and the building official has approved it.

The Fire Prevention Division inspects The Barn annually for compliance with the fire code.

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.