Roof collapse closes South Lake shopping center
January 25, 2017
A roof collapse at a South Lake Tahoe liquor store has shut down an entire shopping center as city officials examine the building structure and work to clear the snow that caused the breakdown.
Around 2:30 a.m. on Monday, South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue was dispatched to the Green Tahoe Market and Liquor Store located in the Pioneer Center on Harrison Avenue. An alarm for the sprinkler system had been triggered, but upon arrival crews noticed water streaming from the store and discovered the collapsed roof.
Utilities to all of the businesses in the center, such as Port of Subs, Taqueria Jalisco, Rojo's and Sierra Veterinary Hospital, were shut off. No one was in the building at the time except for a few animals that were safely relocated.
That same day, the city building inspector deemed the structure "unfit for human occupancy." All businesses housed in the complex are closed indefinitely as crews work to assess the damage to the structure and remove the estimated 4 feet of snow accumulated on the flat roof.
South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Jim Drennan said there is no timeline for when the businesses will reopen.
"That's all up in the air right now. The building has been red-tagged by the city," said Drennan. "At the very least they will need to replace the roof and it's a question of if they will need to do more work."
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The building was originally built in the 1920s, but after a fire in the 1960s, all units except for Rojo's were destroyed and later reconstructed.
Drennan said this is the first instance of a roof collapse due to snow that his department has responded to.
"Common sense goes a long way," said Drennan. "Take a look at your own building. If you have a flat roof, I would recommend getting that taken care of."
In response to the collapse, the city of South Lake Tahoe issued the following tips for removing snow from roofs.
Use a snow rake for pitched roofs (available at most hardware stores) to remove snow from your roof.
Start from the edge and work your way into the center of the roof.
Try to shave the snow down to 2 or 3 inches on the roof instead of scraping the roof clean, which could damage your shingles or other roof covering.
Keep in mind that any metal tool could conduct electricity if it touches a power line. Also, metal tools will do more damage to your roof.
Shovel snow from flat roofs by throwing the snow over the side away from the building.
Most plastic shovels are better, except for ones with curved blades — those too will do some damage to your roof.
Remove large icicles carefully if they're hanging over doorways and walkways. Consider knocking down icicles through windows using a broomstick.
Wear protective headgear and goggles when performing any of these tasks.
Consider hiring professionals to do the job. The combination of height plus ice makes this one of the more dangerous household chores.
If you don't hire professionals, at least have someone outside with you in case anything does go wrong.
Keep gutters and drains clean, free of ice and snow and keep downspouts clean at ground level.
Don't add your weight or the weight of equipment to the roof Unless approved by a registered professional engineer.
Don't use electric heating devices like hair dryers or heat guns to remove snow and ice.
Don't use open-flame devices to remove snow and ice.
Don't use a ladder until any ice that tends to build up on ladder rungs is wiped clean and check boots and shoes for ice buildup before climbing the ladder.
How to recognize potentially hazardous snow loads on roofs
Severe roof leaks
Cracked or split wood members
Bends or ripples in supports
Cracks in walls or masonry
Sheared off screws from steel frames
Sprinkler heads that have dropped down below ceiling tiles
Doors that pop open
Doors or windows that are difficult to open
Bowed utility pipes or conduit attached at ceiling
Creaking, cracking or popping sounds
Other safety tips
Make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
Check outside fuel and dryer exhaust vents, making sure that they are not obstructed by snow or ice. Never use cooking equipment intended for outside use indoors as a heat source or cooking device. Never use your oven for heat.
Clear snow away from furnace and dryer exhaust vents to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Ice dams can cause major damage to a home or building. Ice dams occur after a heavy snowfall. followed by several days or even weeks of very cold weather. An ice dam is a wall of ice that forms at the edge of the roof, usually at the gutters or soffit. When it forms, the water backs up behind the ice dams and creates a pool. This pool of water can leak into your home and cause damage to your walls, ceilings, insulation and other areas.
Space heaters need space, so use them in a 3-foot circle of safety; free of anything that may catch fire. Space heaters are not designed to replace your central heating system; they are only designed to provide a little extra heat on a temporary basis. So be sure to turn them off when you leave room or go to bed at night.
Also, please remember to shovel-out fire hydrants in your area in case of emergency.