Man rescued after entrapment inside shipping container at Facebook data center site in DeKalb

“Thank goodness he had a cellphone,” DeKalb Fire Chief says

Construction continues on the Facebook property Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, south of Gurler Road in DeKalb.

DeKALB – A man was rescued after about 18 minutes trapped inside a shipping container at the construction site of the Facebook DeKalb Data Center this week, said DeKalb Fire Chief Jeff McMaster.

The incident occurred on Tuesday, McMaster said, adding authorities believe the incident was accidental. A 911 call was made by the man from inside the container after he realized he was stuck, McMaster said.

“Thank goodness he had a cellphone,” McMaster said. “So he called 911 and police and fire were dispatched.”

The fire chief said first responders had to get creative to locate the man among the construction site, which spans more than 500 acres along Route 23 and Gurler Road along the south side of DeKalb near Interstate 88.

“What the 911 telecommunicator instructed the guy to do was to bang on the door [of the container],” McMaster said. “And then they came up with a plan with the worker locked in the container. The fire trucks were driving around blowing their horns because it’s such a large campus. And he could tell the telecommunicators if the sounds were getting closer or farther away.”

Emergency dispatchers and the man were able to communicate to locate each other.

The chief said no one was injured in the incident, and a worksite supervisor came to the scene and unlocked the container.

“Believe it or not, it was a very quick time of dispatch to out, only 18 minutes,” McMaster said. “Thank goodness.”

In 2022, the construction site will be home to social media giant Facebook’s new DeKalb Data Center, a multiple building 907,000-square-foot facility which is the 12th of its kind in the world and promises an $800 investment in DeKalb. At the project’s peak, Facebook officials have estimated the site constriction will employ 1,200 construction and trade workers which will span the two to three years it will take to get the first building up and running.

Two buildings have been constructed so far out of 8 planned, McMaster said.

Mortenson and Construction Trade partners is conducting the build of the data center, and earlier this month held an informational session about trade jobs available for the Facebook project at the DeKalb Public Library.

In a statement to the Daily Chronicle, Mortenson public relations representative Cameron Snyder said the the shipping container was a Conex box, a shipping container used most frequently to transport and store materials.

“On Tuesday, Nov. 16 at the end of the workday, a worker on the DeKalb project site was accidentally locked in a Conex box for a short period of time,” Snyder said in a statement. “Project safety personnel and local first responders resolved the situation without incident.”