-- Police and building inspectors are investigating what may have caused a deck to collapse at an Emerald Isle, North Carolina, beach house, injuring up to 24 people.
Preliminary findings reveal the floor joists and fasteners failed to hold the deck together, Emerald Island Town Manager Frank Rush said today. The fasteners may have deteriorated over time, Rush said.
The house was built in the 1980s, Rush said, adding that if the structure was built today, it would be constructed in a similar manor.
According to Emerald Isle officials, members of a family -- ranging in ages from 5 to 94 -- were on a deck overlooking the ocean preparing to take a family photo shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday when the structure collapsed. Rush said Saturday was to be the last night of the family's trip.
Emerald Isle Fire Chief Bill Walker said the deck itself gave way and collapsed inward, while the pilings holding up the deck remained upright.
The deck was about 14 feet off the ground, officials said today.
First responders from Emerald Isle arrived on scene within minutes and began treating and triaging patients, police said.
Due to the number of casualties involved, neighboring agencies were called in to assist in transporting and dealing with the victims. Indian Beach, Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores and Western Carteret all sent Fire and EMS units to assist, while Broad and Gales Creek Fire Departments were also dispatched to provided assistance. Morehead City EMS provided a mass casualty bus to treat and transport victims.
Officials today said up to 24 people were injured, including one child.
Injuries varied from people with several broken bones to those with minor scratches and cuts, according to Walker.
At least five people remained in hospitals today, officials said, including two people in critical condition.
Police have vacated the home, Rush said. No one will occupy the home until the incident is resolved, Rush added.
Woody Warren, an owner/broker from Bluewater Vacation Rentals, the group that rents the house, called it a "horrible accident" in a statement via email to ABC News.
Warren said the company's "thoughts and prayers" are with the family.
"We are asking everyone in this community for their prayers and support," the statement added.