Potential causes of fatal roof collapse at Anchorage CrossFit gym begin to emerge

As engineers survey the site of a roof collapse at the Turnagain CrossFit gym that occurred on Friday, an Anchorage official said thick ice that had accumulated on the roof far exceeded the maximum weight under the city’s design and construction standards.

On Sunday, a second section of the roof collapsed in the building at 1101 East 76th Ave., just east of the Old Seward Highway, though most of the building remains intact.

The initial collapse on Friday evening happened during a fitness competition, killing a woman and trapping two others.

Ross Noffsinger, acting building official for the municipality, said Tuesday that “tremendous” ice buildup above the gym, apparently caused by sloping on the roof, may have been the biggest factor in the collapse.

“The roof area in general is quite large, and it looks like a substantial portion of the roof was sloping in that direction,” he said, toward the northeast corner of the building where the gym was located.

Noffsinger said more analysis must be done before officials reach a final conclusion.

But Noffsinger said it appears that the ice buildup was so thick in the area above the gym that its weight may have been more than double the amount of the city’s design criteria for ice and snow on roofs of 40 pounds per square foot.


Noffsinger said that liquid may have been collecting on the roof over the gym, and with freezing and thawing it may have turned into massive amounts of ice — almost “creating glaciation,” he said.

“It definitely resulted in substantially overloading that northeast corner of the building,” Noffsinger said of the ice buildup.

The city is waiting on an engineer’s structural report that should provide more information about the building. The report is being done by a private sector engineer that works for the building owner, SBV Leasing.

A contractor, Chuck Dunn of Dunn Contractors and Associates, has been hired by the building owner. Dunn said he is shoring up the building and working with the structural engineering company, DCI Engineers.

Dunn acknowledged that ice buildup may have been one factor, but he said other issues may have been at play. He said the analysis includes an extensive look at many factors including the building’s condition, history and building materials, such as the use of wood framing in the northern section of the building instead of the cinder block used in other parts.

“We have a lot to determine still, so it’s premature to say what the cause was,” he said.

Building owner Ruth Lonser with SBV Leasing declined to comment on Wednesday. “I don’t have anything to report at this time,” she said in a text.

Dunn said the second roof collapse occurred on the northwest side of the building, adjacent to the former gym. No one was hurt, but the roof crashed down with “a big loud bang” on Sunday morning, said Dunn, who was holding a safety meeting on the site at the time.

The new caved-in area is a bit smaller area than the original collapse on Friday, measuring about 2,000 square feet. It wasn’t a completely unexpected event, given that the original collapse destabilized the neighboring portion of the building, Dunn said.

The building was constructed in 1979, and is more than 35,000 square feet, according to city property records.

[This season’s snowfall isn’t yet too heavy for the vast majority of Anchorage rooftops, experts say]

Some people have speculated that heavy snow loads on the roof, in a year of record snowfall, were the reason for the roof’s collapse, Dunn said.

But he said snow on the intact south side of the building, which was cleared after the first roof collapse, was determined to weigh about 25 pounds per square foot, well below the city design standard for 40 pounds.

“I’m hoping engineers learn from this, the city learns from this, so we can actually figure out the failures” of the building and prevent future incidents, Dunn said.

Noffsinger also said records show that the northeast portion of the building had settled significantly, perhaps due to the 7.1-magnitude earthquake in 2018 or natural settling over years.

A permit had been issued in 2021 to allow the building’s owner to stabilize the building and prevent it from sinking further, he said.

Dunn said the work had been properly permitted and completed, and he doesn’t think the roof collapse had anything to do with the settling of the building.


“Everything was done by the book,” he said.

On Wednesday, Dunn stood outside the two gutted areas of the building where the roofs had collapsed, speaking with reporters.

A few sagging and damaged roof timbers remained, sheeting materials hanging down. Exercise bikes and other workout equipment still occupied the former gym.

The owner had hired a security guard and fencing has been erected to prevent people from accessing the site, Dunn said.

The building, which housed multiple businesses, has been closed to occupancy by the municipality since the first roof came down.

Dunn said one important question is how soon it will be before the intact building will be safe enough for businesses to return. That’s something he hopes to know in the coming days, he said.

Dominion Propeller, a company that buys, sells and repairs propellers for aircraft, had used the area where the second roof collapsed for storage.

People with Dominion Propeller were in the storage area on Saturday, removing merchandise the day before the roof collapsed, Dunn said.


Dunn advised the building owner, who had been in contact with the Dominion employees, that the building was not safe for anyone and that no one should be there. The people with Dominion soon left, he said.

Jerry Allsup, co-owner at Dominion Propeller, said the company has offices in a nearby building and was able to remove most of its items from the storage area on Saturday.

“It’s a little upsetting,” Allsup said of the collapse on Sunday. “It’s put a crimp in our operation, because now I don’t have storage for some of these expensive things. But some people are far worse off than we are, so I’m not complaining.”

Daily News reporter Tess Williams contributed.

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Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or