April 1, 2012 in City

Record rainfall leads to derailment, roof collapse

By The Spokesman-Review
Jonathan Brunt photo

The roof on the south garage at Ulricks Service Center, 3100 N. Division, collapsed about 1 a.m. Sunday, April 1. The Spokane Fire Department reported that the cause appeared to be rainwater pooling on the roof. Spokane set a record this year for the most precipitation in a March.
(Full-size photo)

March rainfall records


New record: March 2012, 4.56 inches

Old record: March 1995, 3.81 inches

Coeur d’Alene

New record: March 2012, 6.14 inches

Old record: March 1916, 5.37 inches

Record rainfall likely caused the closure of two rail lines in North Idaho, a highway blockage in Pend Oreille County, a roof collapse in North Spokane and flooding along some local rivers this weekend.

Fourteen cars of a Union Pacific freight train derailed about eight miles north of Sandpoint about 8:45 a.m. Saturday, said Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt. Six cars were carrying soybeans. The rest were empty, he said. Bonner County Sheriff dispatch records indicate the derailment occurred near Colburn Culver and Selkirk roads.

Hunt said that the railroad is investing the incident but 350 feet of track was washed out.

No one was injured. It may take “several days” to fix the track, Hunt said.

Late Saturday, a rock slide 20 miles east of Bonners Ferry forced the closure of a BNSF Railway line and blocked a train line connecting Montana to the Pacific Northwest overnight, the Associated Press reported. BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said seven trains were delayed but that the line was reopened at about 2 a.m. Sunday.

Early Sunday in Spokane, the roof on the south garage at Ulricks Service Center, 3100 N. Division, collapsed about 1 a.m. Sunday as a result of water pooling on the roof, the Spokane Fire Department reported in a news release.

The main building at Ulricks wasn’t affected. The garage that collapsed was built in the early 1980s, according to property records.

A gas line was ruptured in the collapse, and Division Street was closed to traffic until the gas was shut off, the department said. No one was inside at the time, and no one was injured, the department said.

Part of the remaining structure was bulging after the collapse and the department ordered more of it demolished for public safety reasons, said Battalion Chief Mike Thompson. Some of the structure was near the sidewalk on Euclid Avenue.

Robert Ashley, who lives in a duplex behind Ulricks, said when the roof was collapsing, he heard a mysterious sound that lasted a couple of minutes that was like a plane overhead with serious engine problems. He didn’t realize what happened until emergency crews were one scene.

Fire, utility and demolition crews dealt quickly with the situation, Ashley said.

“There were like beavers,” he said. “They jumped on it until daylight and then some.”

In Pend Orielle County, mudslides forced the closure of state Highway 20 about 30 miles north of Newport twice this weekend, the Washington State Patrol reported.

Some Inland Northwest rivers that were above flood stage fell below on Sunday, but the St. Joe River in St. Maries still is flooding. The river likely will remain above flood stage for the next few days, said Steven Van Horn, a National Weather Service meteorologist. Spokane and Coeur d’Alene broke records this year for the most rain to have fallen in a March. In Spokane, 4.56 inches fell in March, breaking a record that was set in 1995. In Coeur d’Alene, 6.14 inches were recorded, breaking a record set in 1916. Neither city, however, broke records for most rain to have fallen in a month, Van Horn said.

Monday is expected to be dry, but more rain is forecasted for later this week, before clearing up for the weekend. Easter Sunday is expected to be partly sunny, Van Horn said.

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