Roof of another Anchorage commercial building collapses; no one hurt

Another Anchorage building roof collapsed early Sunday morning off Dowling Road with no injuries reported, officials said. The incident happened the day after a thrift store’s roof collapsed near downtown.

Anchorage police and fire departments responded to a commercial building roof collapse in the 100 block of East Dowling Road, just east of C street, on Sunday at about 12:20 a.m., said Assistant Anchorage Fire Chief Alex Boyd.

Police initially responded to a burglar alarm triggered by the collapse, Boyd said. When officers arrived, they saw evidence of a partial roof collapse in the main body of the building, he said. No extra walls collapsed, he said.

A total of 12 Anchorage Fire Department units responded to ensure the building was clear of occupants, as well as to evaluate structural stability and control utilities, Boyd said.

“No one was in the building at the time,” Boyd said.

Building safety engineers are working to determine the cause of the collapse, he said.

The collapsed building appears to be a flat-roof construction from the 1970s or ’80s, Boyd said in an email. The building houses Quality Transmission Service, an auto repair shop.


Martin Chambers, one of the owners of a business next door, Quality Tune Automotive, said Sunday the business owners are now assessing the snow load on their building as well.

“Looks like it needs to get some snow off,” Chambers said. “We have a flat roof.”

The roofs of multiple non-residential buildings in Southcentral Alaska have collapsed in recent weeks after a winter of heavy snowfall.

On Saturday morning, the roof on a building on Ingra Street at Sixth Avenue collapsed, leading to road closures in the area. The cause of the Saturday collapse hasn’t been determined, Boyd said.

The roofs of several more buildings in the area — Palmer’s community library and the Turnagain CrossFit gym in South Anchorage — collapsed earlier this winter. The gym collapse, which killed one woman and trapped two more people, might have been caused by thick ice accumulating on the roof and exceeding the maximum weight for the building, an Anchorage building official told Daily News last month. The weight of snow was a likely cause of Palmer’s library roof collapse, officials said. That building was damaged so badly it will need to be replaced, officials said.

In December, snow buckled the roofs of two commercial buildings in Soldotna.

Authorities have suggested that homeowners keep an eye on residential roofs, but generally have stopped short of recommending they climb up and remove snow.

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

On Sunday, Boyd recommended that residents make sure they are aware of the load on their roofs and contact a professional snow removal company, roofing company or building engineer with any concerns.

“It’s not just snow; it’s wind loading that can move snow from one roof to another,” he said. “It’s also ice damming that occurs because drainage is not occurring, especially on flat roofs. You can accumulate large areas of ice on the roof and not realize it because it’s hidden by the snow.”

Some signs of a building overload include sagging of the roof parts, as well as “new or worsening cracks and ‘nail pop’ on the finished surfaces and doors or windows that have become difficult to open or close,” fire department officials said in the Facebook post.

Alena Naiden

Alena Naiden writes about communities in the North Slope and Northwest Arctic regions for the Arctic Sounder and ADN. Previously, she worked at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.