BOSTON (CBS) – Reports of roof collapses and unsafe structures piled up Wednesday as accumulated, melting and frozen snow was made heavier by freezing rain. State officials had 30 such reports by late afternoon.
A 100-foot section of Winnelson Plumbing and Heating Supplies, about half the building, on Southbridge Street in Auburn caved-in in this morning when employees would have been inside if the company had not called-off work because of the hazardous weather.
“Certaintly, if the staff was in the building today, it could have been catastrophic,” Acting Auburn Fire Chief Stephen Coleman.
The acting Auburn fire chief said anyone with a flat or even a slightly pitched roof, like the one on the Winnelson building, should clear the snow from them.
WBZ-TV’s Ron Sanders reports.
Worcester firefighters were called to Dick’s Sporting Goods on Lincoln Street after an employee noticed a 6-foot piece of steel on the floor from one of the trusses supporting the ceiling. The fire department measured 8 inches of ice and 15 inches of snow on the store’s flat roof. Employees were evacuated.
“When you get these big roofs, with the trusses, expansive roofs, you’ve got HVAC equipment and snow load up on the roofs, it makes for a lot of weight on these roofs,” explained District Chief William O’Connell.
Another big box store in Worcester, Wal-Mart, was closed today as a roofing crew shoveled off the flat roof.
Two independent roofers spent most of the day on top of retired firefighter Red Ljunggren’s home in Shrewsbury. “I feel better we’re getting some of the weight off that roof before the roof collapses,” said Ljunggren.
Jason Haskins of West Brookfield and Jerry Freeman of Boylston have cleared a dozen roofs in the past three days. “Some of the roofs, we can walk right off the roof it’s so deep,” said Freeman.
“It’s…a little heavier today with the snow and rain coming down. It’s definitely going to be a little heavier. We’re trying to get it off before the ice builds up,” said Haskins.
Three planes and a helicopter were heavily damaged when the roof at a hangar that’s operated by Swift Aviation Services came down.
A mechanic working on a plane managed to get under a desk before the collapse. There was little warning before the roof caved in from all the snow.
“I didn’t really hear much of anything. I just felt the shaking and then a deep rumble, and then you knew, there goes the roof,” said Ted Robinson of Norwood Airport.
No one was hurt.
As WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager reports, the many roof collapses led people to rake their roofs.
The awning at a gas station in Weymouth collapsed on Wednesday morning.
No one was hurt, but plenty of damage was reported.
“We turned over the debris that was down there, and we’re pretty fortunate that there was nobody down there (under the collapse),” said Dep. Chief John Haslam of the Weymouth Fire Department.
The deputy chief said the heavy snow and heavy rain made a dangerous combination for roofs on all area buildings.
“These roofs are just not designed for that kind of weight,” said Dep. Chief Haslam.
Officials reported a partial roof collapse at one of the buildings on 35th Street.
The large building is typically used to store farm equipment.
The collapse left a pile of twisted metal and splintered wood.
No one was inside when the roof came down, and there were no injuries were reported in the collapse.
Heavy wet snow soaked by heavy rain caused a roof of a specialty metals warehouse in Wilmington to collapse Wednesday morning.
“My understanding is that there was one gentleman that was particularly close. He heard the roof starting to, or what he thought was somebody banging on a door. It was actually the thing starting to give way. He went into the collapsed area but he was not injured,” Fire Chief Edward Bradbury told WBZ-TV.
It is unclear how many employees were inside at the time, but no one was hurt.
WBZ-TV’s Alana Gomez reports from Wilmington.
There are also reports of minor roof collapses coming in from Chelsea, Northboro and Springfield.
MEMA officials and search & rescue teams are on standby as the winter storm moves out of the area.
WBZ-TV’s Ron Sanders contributed to this report.