Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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February 4, 2011

WEB UPDATE: Threat of roof collapses prompts Andover Fire to issue advisory

Urges public to know warning signs

Andover fire Chief Mike Mansfield is advising residents who believe they may have a structural problem with their home or workplace caused by the weight of snow loads to contact Andover Fire Rescue immediately by calling 911.

With nearly 90 buildings having collapsed in the state, Mansfield issued the following advisory early Friday afternoon:

“Over the past 24 hours, there have been several reports [statewide] of buildings, including single family homes, with potential structural damage from the weight of snow and ice loads on roofs.

“In many instances, homes and businesses have been evacuated as a result of collapses or safety concerns resulting from indications of structural weaknesses. In a normal winter season, there may be a handful of such events, making this season, with its heavy snowfall, extremely unique.

“The current severe roof load conditions are the result of the recent prolonged cold weather and repeated snowstorms. Short periods of rain that get absorbed in the snowpack on roofs have also made matters even worse. Compounding the situation is the short-term weather forecast of potentially two more snowstorms arriving within the next week.

“Homeowners, tenants, and businesses need to be cognizant of the danger posed by heavy snow loads on roods, and the warning signs of potential structural weaknesses. In some instances, the risks posed by accumulated snow on roofs can be mitigated by safely removing snow from roofs on both commercial buildings and homes.

“Because temperatures are expected to remain cold for at least the new few days, and more snow may fall as early as this weekend, efforts should be undertaken now to safely remove snow from roofs. Removing snow from rooftops will minimize the likelihood of structural collapse. Flat and low pitched roofs, most often found on industrial buildings, but also used in certain home designs, are at the greatest risk of buckling under heavy snow and ice accumulations. Lower roofs, where snow drifts or accumulates from higher roofs are also vulnerable.”

The advisory concludes with the statement “If you think you may have a potential structural problem with your residence or building contact the Andover Fire Rescue immediately by call 911.”

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