PHOTOS: 2 homes collapse under heavy snow load in B.C.

Second Nakusp home in eight days caves in from snow load on roof

A Nakusp woman escaped unharmed after the house collapsed around her.

Nakusp’s fire chief says residents should check their roofs after two houses in the village collapsed from the weight of snow in the last week.

“In 35 years I haven’t seen anything like this happen,” said Terry Warren. “People should have a good look at their roofs… this is snow like we used to get in the 60s.”

Emergency crews responded to a call Monday at 3 p.m. after a house collapsed on 7th Ave.

A woman was in the home, but escaped unharmed with her pets.

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The house was completely demolished under the weight of the snow. A car parked on the side of the building was buried when the carport collapsed. The walls of a new garage at the back of the building were blown outward, and lumber and other materials were strewn around. A front porch collapsed under the weight as well.

Firefighters cordoned off the area, and ordered hydro and water to the building cut.

“We don’t know what happened,” said homeowner Lloyd Coates, surveying the damage. “We don’t have any idea. The roof came down.”

Later Coates posted to a community Facebook page, “Well, it looks like I will be looking for a place to rent, must be pet friendly.”

Coates and his wife were put up in emergency shelter for the evening, and the community began to rally behind the couple. Posts on Facebook called for clothes and essentials for the pair, until insurance help kicks in.

It’s the second house collapse in eight days in Nakusp. On February 25th the roof of a mobile home on 9th Ave. caved in, trapping a resident inside. Emergency crews had to extract the person, who was taken to hospital with unspecified injuries.

Nakusp fire chief Terry Warren says homeowners should check their roof and shovel it off if it looks overburdened.

“People don’t realize there are tons and tons of snow on their roofs right now,” he says. “There’s been a cycle of melting, snowing, freezing, melting, etc. It may look like the snow has gone down, but it is super-heavy up there.”

A local builder says it can be difficult to tell if a roof or building is at the point of collapse.

“There’s no obvious ways to predict if they are going to fall down or stay up,” says Dave Madden. He suggests people can check for things like cracking drywall, or doors and windows that won’t open all of a sudden.

“Some of these houses are pretty old, and were built before building codes, inspections or proper engineering,” he says.

Madden says he heard of two local buildings that collapsed under the weight of snow last year, one in Hills and one near Nakusp.

“So it does happen,” he says.

Meanwhile, Nakusp’s fire chief is urging people to use caution when clearing their roofs.

“Be careful. You don’t want to fall off your roof,” says Warren.

“But check your snow load. If you have overhanging eaves or porch roofs that have been extended, or garages, those seem to be the most susceptible.”

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Cindy Coates was in the building but escaped unhurt when the building collapsed around her.

The walls of the back of the garage are blown outward, completely destroying the structure.

Lloyd Coates (right) speaks with emergency officials after the building was secured.

Nakusp’s fire chief says garages and roof extensions seem particularly vulnerable to collapse.

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