Provided by Prince William Fire & Rescue
On Sunday, January 24th at approximately 12:30 a.m., fire and rescue units were dispatched to a building collapse at 10900 block of Coverstone Drive in Manassas.
Upon arrival, fire and rescue crews observed two apartments, one with partial collapse and the other building showing signs of a potential collapse. Initial reports indicated residents were trapped due the location of the collapse, a center portion of the building which leads to an exit. PWL Fire and rescue crews immediately began evacuating the residents from two complexes housing 12 units each.
No injuries to residents; one minor injury of a firefighter who sustained a facial cut.
Arrangements are currently being made to shelter approximately 67 people displaced by the building collapse.
The cause of the collapse appears to be the recent snowfall of approximately 28 inches of snowfall during the last 36 hours. Building officials are on the scene to make the actual determination.
Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin McGee states, “Roof collapses occur during extreme weather. In this incident it was due to the weight of the snow. Prior to a collapse, the building will display warning signs. Residents should look and listen for those signs.”
- Roof sagging, from indoors or outdoors; the snow’s weight is too heavy for the building.
- Sprinkler heads that are pushed out below the ceiling might be indicators of a damaged structure.
- Utility pipes attached at the ceiling might also begin to bend or warp from the changing shape of the building’s structure.
Doors and Windows (due to the frame warping under the weight of the snow)
- Doors pop open on their own.
- Doors are difficult to open and close.
- Windows are difficult to open and close or begin breaking.
- Sounds of soft creaking and cracking are common in new and old buildings and homes. However, if you hear soft popping or creaking sounds more often (or only) during the presence of snow on your roof, it’s an indication that the structure is under stress.
If you are experiencing any of these warning signs, remove snow from the roof immediately, before conditions worsen. Should any area crack or break, vacate the building immediately and call 911!
For more information on the Dos and Don’ts of Snow Removal visit http://www.pwcgov.org/government/dept/FR/Pages/Dos-and-Don’ts-of-Rooftop-Snow-