Weight of Snow Becoming Too Much

Lous Upholstery
Shirley Chan, NBC Connecticut

It was anything but paradise in Waterbury Friday. The Paradise Cafe is just the latest business or home to fall victim to a roof collapse because of the heavy snow above.

"It created a ruptured gas line so we had to secure the gas to the affected structure and evacuated the other businesses," said Waterbury Fire Dept. Deputy Chief Richard Hart.

Luckily no one was injured but other stores in East Gate Plaza were deemed unsafe.

In Plainville, Kohl's Department Store was evacuated around 3pm Friday because of concerns of heavy snow on the roof. The retailer closed for the night while inspectors made sure the building was safe.

A Manchester auto and upholstery shop was condemned after massive amounts of snow caused it to collapse on Friday.

A neighbor called 911 after hearing what sounded like an explosion at Lou's Auto Sales and Upholstery on Center Street.

When firefighters arrived, they found a "lean to" collapse. The flat-roofed building fell from the front to the rear, coming down to a "V" in the middle.

Five cars, including two antiques, two boats and two motorcycles were in the building when it collapsed.

The 34-year old family-owned business, which has served the fire department among other clients, is now completely destroyed. Building inspectors have condemned the building.

No one was inside at the time and no other buildings in the area were affected.

 The heavy snow has added excessive weight to roofs, causing problems, especially for buildings with flat roofs. This, however, was the first roof collapse in Manchester. 

"Generally, our roofs in Connecticut, in New England (are) good for 60 pounds per square foot. I think we're getting to that point on a lot of flat roofs. With the original snow then that gets ice-packed with new snow on it, there's just so much weight on it this is gonna happen," Fire Chief Robert Bycholski said. 

A home was damaged on Senexet Rd. in Woodstock Friday when the weight of the snow caused the walls to buckle and the roof to partially collapse. Homes and buildings in Wallingford, Portland, South Windsor, Meriden and Glastonbury also collapsed, or were compromised by the heavy snow.

Mohegan Elementary School in Montville was evacuated Friday due to concerns about the structural soundness of the building. A construction engineer inspected the school and determined cracks in some of the walls were superficial and not due to any structural damage.

There are also a number of warning signs to look out for before it's too late:

  • Sagging roof
  • Cracked beams
  • Warped doors or windows

If you are concerned call your local building inspector or fire department.

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