ROSTRAVER, Pa. — Heavy snow buildup from recent storms likely contributed to the collapse of an ice rink roof, causing a panicked evacuation but no injuries, a fire official and the building's owner said.
"We believe it was excessive weight from the copious quantities of snow that we've had over the past 10 days," Jim Murphy, who has owned the Rostraver Ice Garden since 1993, said Monday. "We believe a laminated wood truss broke and that caused two other ones to go and the roof to pancake in that area."
The region has gotten more than two feet of snow in the past week and a half. Justin Shawley, assistant chief of the Rostraver Central Volunteer Fire Company, also said snow and ice buildup may have contributed to the collapse.
A 100-foot-by-200-foot roof section fell in during a youth hockey tournament Sunday afternoon. The teams were in the locker room and only one person, a rink worker, was on the ice.
The worker heard a crack and told people to get out of the building, Shawley said. About 100 people inside the rink bolted for the exits.
There were reports of people unaccounted for amid the post-collapse confusion, but authorities searched the building with cadaver dogs and thermal-imaging cameras before declaring that no one was missing.
Murphy could not immediately estimate the cost of the damage. He said he hoped to have heat and electricity turned on so pipes would not freeze.
The rink, about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is in the middle of facility, which was built in 1965, and is flanked by a banquet hall on one side and a pub on the other. Those sections were not damaged, Murphy said. The rink will not reopen anytime soon, though the pub and banquet facilities could, he said.
An investigation in this matter will reveal the cause of the collapse of this building. Albeit heavy snows are reported to be the culprit, the fact is that buildings of the type and kind are designed by architects and constucted by contractors. The investigation will determine if the materials used in the construction of this building conformed with those specified by the architect. The questions posed in this inquiry are whether the materials used in the construction of the building conformed to the design or whether the design itself was insufficient. Conforming merely to building codes are not necessarily sufficient if it is determined that the archetect knew or should have known beforehand what the snow fall is on a 50 yr and/or 100 yr periods. Taking averages over lesser periods do not protect the public safety. Fortunately, no one was injuried in this collapse, but an investigation must be conducted in order to protect others (particularly children) who use facilities such as the type and kind involved in this collapse from potential catastrophe.
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