Two more roofs collapsed in Anchorage over the weekend, bringing to at least eight the number of commercial buildings with roofs that have caved in this season. At least 24 roof structures have failed under heavy snow in the past two winters, according to the city.
No one was hurt in either case, according to the Anchorage Fire Department. The spaces were unoccupied at the time of the collapses.
The fire department received notice of one collapse at 5:38 p.m. on Sunday, it said in a statement.
A flat roof crashed down at the northern end of a large commercial condominium building, near the Seward Highway and Dowling Road, at 2020 E. Dowling Road. The building was constructed in 1983, property records show.
The other collapse happened earlier in the day on Sunday, when a large steel awning collapsed outside an auto repair business near the intersection of Minnesota Drive and International Airport Road, damaging some vehicles on the lot. The department received notice of that collapse at 10:14 a.m. It was a “minor partial collapse,” the department said.
Snow has fallen at a record pace this winter. So far, 111.2 inches of snow has dropped, more than nine feet, the National Weather Service said.
Last week, two commercial roofs also collapsed. Government officials in Anchorage took the unprecedented step of warning more than 1,000 commercial property owners that their roofs could be at risk of failure because of this year’s record-breaking snow loads.
Officials have identified a particular type of flat roof over a commercial building at higher risk. They are made of wooden truss beams connected with metal gang nail plates built before 1990, particularly among flat-roofed commercial buildings, such as warehouses, with long truss spans. The letters include photos of the problem roof structures, as well as photos of roof construction that are not considered an issue.
The collapses this season come after officials reported that 16 roofs failed last winter, with the vast majority of those occurring after mid-February. Last February, a woman died in a collapse. Nobody has been hurt or killed in this winter’s collapses, and no residential collapses have been reported.
Several businesses occupy the large building on East Dowling Road where the roof collapsed Sunday evening.
The building was closed early Monday morning. Red warning notices posted on doors of the building indicated that the roof is one of the problematic roofs that have been a concern. “Parallel chord truss failure,” a notice said, referring to the type of trusses that have commonly been a problem.
On Monday, about a dozen men were on the roof shoveling snow off the remainder of the building.
Nick Almasy, with Alaska Landworks, said the company was hired to remove the snow.
He said the snow on the roof, about 2 1/2 feet thick, indicated it had not been shoveled this season.
“It’s just a lot of snow in a concentrated area, and roofs are bound to give eventually,” he said. “Our job is to get this snow out of here and keep these guys safe,” he said.
At the site of the other roof collapse that happened Sunday morning, James Trueblood, the owner of Specialized Import Auto Service at 1218 W. International Airport Road, said people who work in the building next door noticed the collapse and notified the property owner, who in turn called him.
The building is listed as a 22,000-square-foot building constructed in 1973. The owner is listed as CPS KIM, LLC.
The snow had not been cleared this season, said Trueblood, who waited in his car near the damaged building on Monday morning.
He said he was there in part to have his mail picked up by a neighboring business. He said a roof-shoveling crew was expected to come by later.
He said five cars were damaged by the awning, of about 20 on the lot.
“Nothing inside has been damaged,” he said. “The awning was a bolted-on component to the rest of the building and it collapsed.”
But the business can’t do any work until the awning is removed, which is expected to take about a week, he said.
“I cannot receive customers, and we cannot do any work inside,” he said.