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Posts Tagged ‘roof collapse

For students in at least two towns, roof problems mean a day off

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Published on February 7, 2011 in The Boston Globe MetroDesk Blog

It hasn’t snowed for several days. But students in Methuen and Georgetown are still getting “snow days” because of concerns that the roofs of their school buildings might be unsafe.

Methuen officials said they were closing both today and Tuesday so workers could clear snow from the roofs.

“It was the correct thing to do to relieve some of the pressure on those roofs,” said Methuen Mayor William Manzi, who met with school officials Friday to determine a course of action.

The meeting followed a recommendation Thursday from an architectural firm, a school department statement said. An outside contractor is performing the snow removal, and school will be reopened Wednesday.

“In order to get the work done in the safest possible manner, we cannot have children in the vicinity,” Superintendent Judith Scannell said in the statement.

The Georgetown public schools were closed again today after there was a partial collapse at Perley Elementary School last Thursday, said Fire Chief Albert Beardsley.

“In speaking with the building inspector, they still want a state engineer to come in and evaluate the building before we can start the process of reopening” the school, he said.

Today there is a crane removing snow from the school’s roof and dumping it on the ballfield, he said. The rest of the district’s schools are just about done with the snow removal.


Written by jdunccc

February 7, 2011 at 12:00 am

Officials warn of roof collapses; storm could bring some areas 4 more inches

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Published on February 4, 2011 in The Boston Globe MetroDesk Blog

-Shared byline with John Ellement, Martin Finucane and Katherine Landergan

State officials renewed their warnings today about the danger of roof collapses, as weather forecasters said a storm on Saturday could drop more than four new inches of snow on some parts of the region.

“This is not a reason for panic, it’s a reason for care and diligence,” Governor Deval Patrick said at a midday news conference at a collapsed battery company building in Auburn. “This is a very tough time, a very tough set of circumstances. But people can do things to keep themselves, their families, and their co-workers safe.”

He said the warning signs of a collapse included doors sticking or opening on their own because the jambs have become out of line. Leaks, windows jamming, and cracking sounds are other signs, he said.

“Obviously, if anyone starts to hear this kind of cracking, get out of the building as quickly as possible,” he said.

Light snow is expected to start from mid-morning to noon on Saturday. It will switch over to rain in the Boston area and might switch back to a couple of hours of light snow early Sunday morning, said Rebecca Gould, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Taunton.

A snowfall forecast map issued by the weather service showed some areas along the northern central part of the state receiving as much as 4.4 inches of snow. Boston is expected to receive only about 0.2 inches.

Tonight and Saturday night, temperatures are expected to plunge into the 20s, or lower, and stay below freezing at night through most of next week, the weather service said. Another storm could hit late next week, forecasters said.

Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said approximately 92 buildings had collapsed since last week, including 80 in the past three days.

He said people should keep an eye on their roofs and remove as much as snow and ice as possible before the storm even in areas where the precipitation is mainly rain. He said the snow would “act like a sponge,” placing an added strain on roofs. “In this regard, I think snow might be a little bit better,” he said.

The governor also said the state has been looking at the rules for a US Small Business Administration program that could offer financial assistance to those making repairs to damage caused by the recent series of punishing storms. Kurt Schwartz, acting director of MEMA, said the state was also looking into a Federal Emergency Management Agency program that would provide help for communities that have exhausted their snow and ice removal budgets.

Meanwhile, the MBTA continued this morning to face delays on the commuter rail, problems on a variety of subway lines, and buses making their way through icy, snow-choked streets.

Logan International Airport operated with only a handful of cancellations, said airport spokesman Phil Orlandella. “I don’t know what normal is,’’ he said. “But I guess we are as close to normal as possible.’’

State Police reported this morning that black ice on major highways in the southeastern corner of the state — Interstate 495 and Routes 3, 24, and 140 — caused numerous spinouts, but no serious crashes or injuries.

Boston officials said today they were continuing to remove snow from city streets and and planned to work through the weekend. The city has removed more than 62,000 tons of snow from the streets since last week, the mayor’s office said in a statement.

In Hopkinton, the roof of a horse barn partially collapsed while two horses were inside, fire officials said. Firefighters were called to the scene, 164 Fruit St., at 7:03 a.m.

When firefighters arrived, the horses were still on the first floor of the two-story barn, said Fire Chief Ken Clark.

“The roof was completely down to the first floor and there was some structural instability,” he said.

Clark said fire officials borrowed the homeowner’s snowblower to cut through the deep snow to the lower floor and free the animals.

“Luckily, one of the rescue guys has horses, so he was in his element,” Clark said. “He was very comfortable. … He was able to calm them, put bridles on them, and get them out.”

Georgetown public schools will be closed until Monday to perform snow removal following a partial collapse Thursday of one of the district’s elementary schools, officials said today.

Currently, contractors are working to remove snow from buildings in hopes of reopening all schools Monday. However the damage at Perley Elementary School still has to be assessed before reopening, Fire Chief Albert Beardsley said.

“We don’t know at this time whether we just need to keep the one wing closed or if the entire school needs to be closed,” he said.

The building inspector is making contact with a structural engineer to determine the safety of the structure and the best course of action, said Beardsley.

In Mansfield, students at Robinson Elementary School were evacuated around 8:30 a.m. due to a roof leak, according to a fire dispatcher.

“The fire department does not see any apparent problems, but is taking this action as a precaution for student safety,” the Mansfield Public Schools website stated.

Students were taken to the Jordan/Jackson School, Qualters Middle School and Mansfield High School.

A Centerville elementary school and a strip mall in Ashland were also evacuated, as were Walmart stores in Chelmsford, Worcester, North Attleboro, and Northampton.

An abandoned two-family house collapsed in Stoneham, a fire official said. No one was inside the home on Common Street, but the old wooden house was beyond repair, he said.


Written by jdunccc

February 4, 2011 at 12:00 am

Governor urges Mass. residents to keep an eye on snow-burdened roofs

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Published on February 3, 2011 in The Boston Globe MetroDesk Blog

-Shared byline with Katherine Landergan, John Ellement and Martin Finucane

The roofs of buildings around the region continued to collapse today, overburdened by this grueling winter’s seemingly endless onslaught of snow, rain, ice, and sleet. And the forecast offers little relief — the National Weather Service says another storm will hit on Saturday.

More than 70 buildings – mostly flat-roofed commercial structures – have seen their roofs collapse, partially or completely, or been evacuated due to safety concerns, Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said this afternoon.Luckily, while dozens of people were in potentially dangerous situations, no one has been seriously hurt, Judge said.

Judge said the number of collapses was “mindboggling.” So was the lack of injuries, he said.

Governor Deval Patrick urged homeowners, business owners, and public officials “to be extra vigilant for their own safety, and for the structural integrity of their homes and businesses.” He also directed state officials to work with the federal government to see if a physical or economic disaster could be declared.

Collapses were reported in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, Chelsea, Weymouth, and Worcester. In a close call in Reading, a man and his son were home but were uninjured when the roof collapsed. Concerns also rose that a number of schools might experience roof collapses. In Georgetown, a partial collapse at the Perley Elementary School forced closure of the school.

Judge said public safety officials hope the weakest buildings have now been pruned away, but he said they also fear that more trouble is in the offing when the next storm system hits.

“It’s not like we are going to have a nice melt over the next couple of days,’’ Judge said. “I would hope that anyone who owns or manages a big, flat-roof building has had someone up on the roof removing snow.’’

The weather service said this morning that some sun will break out today, that temperatures will remain in the 20s and that no major precipitation is expected, aside from some snow showers this morning. Temperatures are expected to plummet into the teens in Boston tonight and the single digits in the suburbs.

On Friday, temperatures will reach into the low 30s with sunny skies. But Saturday morning into midday, forecasters said, another storm, with snow and mixed precipitation, appears likely to arrive.

The snow is predicted to begin just before noon and continue through the evening. Some inland areas could see as much as six inches, said Neal Strauss, a meteorologist with the weather service. Strauss said the mostly wet snowfall will not cause the type of havoc on roadways that recent storms have, but that it will add to the pressure already mounting on roofs.

In Reading, a homeowner on Marla Lane called the fire department around 6 a.m. today about a crack in the wall, and the fire officials suggested calling a contractor.

The homeowner called back around 2 p.m. reporting significant damage, said Fire Captain Paul Guarino. Tiles were falling out and there was an obvious bulge in the second-floor wall. With firefighters on the scene, the structure collapsed, but the homeowner and his son were able to escape without injury.

In Jamaica Plain, a home being renovated collapsed under the weight of snow around 1:30 a.m. today.

Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said the vacant 2 1/2-story wood-framed building at 20 Porter St. crumpled to the ground except for a front facade.

“The snow was definitely a factor,” said MacDonald. “The roof and sides caved in. It was all a pile of rubble.”

MacDonald said the occupied building on the right side was evacuated as a precaution and power was shut off to the building. The city’s Inspectional Services Department will examine the structure.

In Chelsea, an elderly woman was rushed from her home by emergency workers today after the roof of a neighboring commercial building collapsed, rattling the woman’s nerves and her kitchenware. No one was in the commercial building at the time.

In Worcester, public safety officials are investigating a roof collapse at a commercial building on James Street.

In Lincoln, town officials surveyed Donelan’s Market where part of the roof collapsed late Wednesday night. The store, located in the Lincoln Mall, was closed. The town’s building inspector was examining the property today to see if it is structurally sound so other businesses in the mall can reopen, officials said today.

In Weymouth, a partial roof collapse at one unit of a commercial condo building forced the evacuation of 20 people from eight units, but occupants of other units were allowed to return after the roof was cleared and the building was checked out.

According to the weather service, long-range forecasts suggest another storm will arrive early next week.

As of 6 a.m. Thursday, the weather service reports 70.5 inches of snow has fallen this season at Logan International Airport.


Written by jdunccc

February 3, 2011 at 12:00 am

With snow piling up, officials keep a close eye on school roofs

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Published on February 3, 2011 in The Boston Globe MetroDesk Blog

At least one school suffered a partial roof collapse today, while others across the region were evacuated and inspected because of concerns that the weight of the snow and rain from a succession of winter storms might cause structural failures.

The roof of Perley Elementary School in Georgetown partially buckled from the weight of the snow, creating a hole about 30 feet by 30 feet in size, Fire Chief Albert Beardsley said.

The report of the collapse came in at about 11:45 a.m., he said. The failure affected a wing of about eight classrooms.

A full evacuation was ordered, and all children and staff were moved to the middle and high schools without any problems, said Beardsley.

In Norwell, the South Shore Charter School had to be evacuated because of the roof’s concerns about the roof’s condition, Fire Chief Andy Reardon said.

Firefighters responded a little before 10 a.m. and assisted with the evacuation of students to Cole Elementary School and Norwell High School, Reardon said, and the students were released to their parents a few hours later.

“You hear so often how things don’t work, but this thing, to me, worked like clockwork, almost like it was rehearsed,” he said. “I’m very pleased with the charter school and school district for being so cooperative.”

All 11 public schools in Peabody were closed today as a precautionary measure, Superintendent Milton Burnett said.

“The way the buildings are constructed, some places just drifted,” he said. “There were no structural compromises, it was completely precautionary.”

For the past week, facilities and maintenance crews have been working to clear close to a million square feet of roof space, he said.

Chelsea also took precautions, said Superintendent Thomas Kingston.

Officials checked each building to ensure their safety. Snow only needed to be removed from the roof of John E. Burke School, he said.

Hingham Middle School was also closed today due to concern over the roof’s safety. According to an announcement sent to Hingham school parents, several wooden beams that hold up the school’s roof cracked under the weight of 11 inches of snow, sending all 900 students into the cafeteria until they were dismissed.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the school would reopen on Friday.


Written by jdunccc

February 3, 2011 at 12:00 am

Snow, rain bring down roofs across the region

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Published on February 2, 2011 in The Boston Globe MetroDesk Blog

-Shared byline with Katherine Landergan and Travis Andersen

In a sprawling commercial building in Easton today, the workers started hearing “strange noises’’ so worrisome that someone pulled a fire alarm, and some 100 people went rushing outside into the chilly weather.

“That was a smart thing to do,’’ Easton Fire Captain David Beals said in a telephone interview. “That way, everybody evacuated.’’Just moments after firefighters and company officials accounted for all the workers, the roof in the warehouse section collapsed into the interior of the Eastman Street building. A short while later, the cinderblock walls of the 154,000-square-foot building collapsed.

“It was a bad scene. The building is a total loss,’’ said Beals, who added the structure housed two businesses, including a telemarketing firm,Triton, which employed some 150 people. “There are two businesses that are out of work right now.’’

The Easton collapse was one of the more dramatic of an estimated 20 or more structural failures across the state. No serious injuries have been reported.

“There is a rash of them out there,’’ Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said this afternoon. “Literally as we speak, we are getting calls about them.”

He added, “The vast majority are the unoccupied, sort of warehouse-type structures. We are not losing houses or apartment buildings or things like that.’’

Structural failures were also reported in a Concord lumber yard, a Needham commercial building and a garage in Natick.

In Leominster, fire officials said the roof of a residential garage fell onto a car parked inside the garage on Second Street. Also, the roof of a greenhouse and the roof for an oil company’s garage could not withstand the weight of the snow and collapsed.

In Wrentham, the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets mall was evacuated and closed tas a precautionary measure, a spokesperson for the outlets said. Despite some reports, no roofs in the shops collapsed.

“There’s no damage to the roof or the center, this is a precautionary measure,” said spokeswoman Michele Rothstein. “We’re checking the structures and doing everything we need to do.”

In Holbrook, the roof of a storage facility at Boston Cedar and Millwork, a building supplier, collapsed under the weight of the snow, leaving a gaping hole.

Rick Reuss, the town’s emergency management director, said at the scene that the hole appeared to be about 40 feet in length.

“It looks like it’s going to be a long repair, if not a demolition,” he told company operations manager Jim Mulligan.

Mulligan said no one was in the building when the roof collapsed. “On a day like today, obviously building materials aren’t going to go out,” he said.

Asked about the treacherous weather conditions, Mulligan said, “It’s been a tough winter, we’ll go with that.”

He said that while the company has taken every precaution to prevent mishaps like today’s roof collapse, “These storms are historic.”

Reuss added that he expects similar scenes to play out during the day. “It’s going to be collapses (throughout) the area.”

In Northborough, a commercial construction facility collapsed at approximately 10 a.m., fire officials said. Construction workers saw the100-by-200-foot shed cave in at the corner of Allen Street and Court Street.

The roof of a hangar at Norwood Memorial Airport collapsed at about 10:40 a.m., fire officials said. At least three planes were visible this afternoon in the mangled building, two of them covered in snow and debris from the roof.

Workers were on scene assessing the damage. The hangar is operated by Swift Aviation Service Inc., officials said.

A commercial building at 230 Crescent Ave. in Chelsea had a partial roof collapse, fire officials said.

Collapses were also reported in Wilmington and in Springfield, where the canopy over the gas pumps at a gas station fell down, said Judge.

The National Weather Service fielded reports of a collapse this morning in Randolph, of an older garage, not attached to a house, on Woodland Parkway.

Beals, the Easton fire captain, said workers at a factory on Norfolk Avenue were also evacuated after they reported hearing sounds suggesting the building was structurally unsound. But, he said, the building was not in danger of collapsing.

Beals said he planned to alert town school officials to make sure they check the school building for structural integrity.

“Our concern is that this (Eastman Street) building may not be the last one,” he said. “It’s only a matter of time before the next one hits.”


Written by jdunccc

February 2, 2011 at 12:00 am

Roof collapses reported in three communities

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Published on January 27 2011 in The Boston Globe MetroDesk Blog

-Shared byline with Brian Ballou

The main hazards of this year’s unusually copious snows have been on the road so far, with cars slipping and sliding into each other and off the road. But a new menace has reared its head today: the possibility that heavy snow will buckle people’s roofs.

Roof collapses have been reported today in three communities.

In a dramatic incident in Lynn, two men were rescued from their crushed car after the collapse of a parking garage roof.

In Avon, two roofs caved in, a police dispatcher said.

The first call came in at 10:38 a.m. about a roof at 145 Bodwell St., and a second roof collapsed in the area shortly after. Police and fire department responders are currently on scene.

And in West Bridgewater, a section of the roof of a large warehouse collapsed, exposing stacks of industrial carpets used for expositions.

Authorities received a call from a nearby resident and responded to the warehouse at 267 South Main St. at 7:15 a.m. No one was inside the warehouse at the time of the collapse and no one was injured.

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Scott MacLeod said the accumulating snow is a growing problem, and these concerns have only been amplified by the roof collapses.

“It certainly highlights the issues we’re going to continue to see throughout the winter,” he said. “Moving forward, it’s certainly a concern for us and any additional snow is going to be a concern for homeowners and business owners.”

MacLeod said MEMA is working with communities to make sure people know how to take care of their roofs to prevent more incidents from happening. The agency officers a number of tips on its website.

He suggests homeowners get snow rakes so snow can be cleared safely from the ground. Commercial flat roofs should also be shoveled and the roof drains should be cleared. If there is a question of safety while clearing, MacLeod suggests calling a roofing contractor.

The collapse in West Bridgewater occurred at a warehouse that is home to Brede Exposition Services, a subsidiary of Casey and Hayes Movers.

Rich Pretorius, who runs an electrical business out of a neighboring warehouse, said he arrived at the scene soon after police. He said he didn’t know whether either roof had been recently cleaned of snow. “I don’t see that much buildup myself,” he said, looking at the end of the warehouse where the collapse occurred.

The West Bridgewater building inspector is investigating the collapse.


Written by jdunccc

January 27, 2011 at 12:00 am

As more snow falls, homeowners are urged to watch their roofs

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Published on January 26, 2011 in The Boston Globe MetroDesk Blog

As Massachusetts residents de-ice their driveways and prepare their cars with antifreeze, there’s another precaution some are starting to take after this season’s heavy snow – clearing their roofs of built-up snow.

Though no serious incidents of collapsed roofs or extensive damage have yet been reported to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, the increasing snowfall this winter is raising concern, said MEMA spokesman Peter Judge.

More residents have been taking proactive approaches to snow buildup on their roofs this season, said Bill Connell, owner of Connell Roofing in Needham. His company already has jobs lined up to clear snow after tonight’s storm.

“Last year was pretty bad, and there’s a lot more snow a lot earlier in the season out here,” he said.

Connell doesn’t recommend residents try to clear their own roofs, as this can cause more harm than good when not done properly. He said roofs in good condition can handle these conditions.

“If you haven’t had a problem, it’s better off you leave it alone,” he said. “A house is made to hold the weight, but a house that’s been let go is the one that’s going to have problems.”

However, the MEMA website does have an article with suggestions for residents to clear their own roofs, and Judge suggests weight be removed from flat roofs. MEMA has made sure local emergency agencies also have the information posted on their website, and hopes the information will keep homes safe through this next storm.

“That’s sort of what we do here – prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” he said.

Written by jdunccc

January 26, 2011 at 12:00 am