January 2, 2009 in City, Idaho

Roof failures keep fire crews busy

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Christopher Anderson photo

Jeff Roma, owner of Buck’s Tire and Automotive at Lincoln and Mallon, in Spokane, walks past his building after the roof collapsed Friday, Jan. 2, 2009. He was on site when the roof started to give way.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

The weight of accumulating snow continued to take its toll on Inland Northwest businesses today.

Firefighters at 10:12 a.m. were called to a roof collapse at Buck’s Tire and Automotive at 918 W. Mallon Ave. and found the owner, who had been up on the roof clearing snow, uninjured.

Jeff Roma, the owner, said, “I heard it start to go and I had to get off.”

In Coeur d’Alene, a business owner and his dog escaped a building at 2615 N. Fourth St. just before the roof caved in.

“My shop dog, Macine, and I ran out as it was coming down,” said Brian Rice, owner of Bedrock Jewelers, one of two tenants in the building.

The roof collapsed over a vacant space. “Most people know it as the old Wonder Bread store,” Rice said.

Aside from Rice and his dog, the building was empty. A second busines, ARI Abadan Reprographics & Imaging, was closed.

The cave-in occurred at 9 a.m. Rice heard popping and cracking sounds, and Macine, a yellow lab, headed for the door with her tail between her legs. Rice followed her out while the eastern section of the building imploded.

Rice was waiting for a structural engineer to assess the building. He’s hoping the section he rents is still sound. Most of the jewelry store’s trade is repair and custom work. With Valentine’s Day and wedding season coming up, Rice said he’s heading into the busiest time of his year.

Part of a commercial building at 140 E. Spruce Ave. in Coeur d’Alene also collapsed. Lenard Allen, owner of Allen Pest Control, was able to move trucks out of space that he rents in the building this morning. Though his space was still standing, the ceiling was buckling and showing signs of stress.

“I don’t want to go back in there,” Allen said. Rescuing more equipment wasn’t worth the risk, he said.

The cave-in ocurred in the rear of the building, which also houses Accurate Edge.

The owner of the building was calling Avista Corp. to turn off gas to the structure.

Back in Spokane, the collapse at Buck’s Tire and Automotive occurred in a service bay area adjacent to the tire show room and office. Two other adjacent buildings were also threatened, fire officials said.

Trusses on a second building appeared to be sagging, so the fire department issued a “stop use” order for that portion of the tire business. A third building facing Monroe Street also was being checked for potential failure, said Battalion Chief Craig Cornelius.

A similar situation drew firefighters to Interior Solutions at 2812 N. Pittsburg St. just before 11 a.m. Officials initially feared a worker might have been in the business when its roof failed, but heat-sensing instruments indicated that no one was likely inside the rubble of broken timbers and roofing.

Contact with the worker was made a short time later.

Earlier, seven Spokane fire trucks were called to a commercial building at 7011 N. Division just after 8 a.m. today where the entire roof collapsed and raised the threat of a gas leak. Businesses housed in the strip mall were Futon Visions, Added Touch Framing and Donuts to Go, according to Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer. Division southbound from Cozza to Francis avenues was closed. Firefighters expected to remain on the scene through the morning.

Firefighters were also called to Spokane Hardware Supply Inc., 2001 E. Trent Ave., on a partially collapsed roof. No injuries were reported.

An awning that collapsed at Pacific Northwest Medical, 220 W. Indiana St., also damaged windows along the front of the building.

The risk of roof collapse has caused Costco on North Division to close today and hire a contractor to shovel its roof. In addition, three Wal-Mart stores are closed in the region — in North Spokane, Airway Heights and Post Falls — while snow is cleared from their roofs.

Staff writer Becky Kramer contributed to this report.


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