Sunday morning's Lami-Plast factory fire, finally extinguished on Tuesday, Feb. 4, broke out after a metal roof had collapsed under the weight of snow.
On Jan. 11, Kruse Farm Supply in Bristol lost its retail greenhouse when snow caved in the roof, totally destroying the structure and causing at least $100,000 damage. The night before the collapse, rain had frozen in the downspouts, filling them with ice and leaving nowhere for snowmelt from the roof to go, said owner Steve Kruse.
"My insurance adjuster told me he's seeing more of these cases this year," Kruse said.
Too much snow on rooftops can not only cause cave-ins, but also water damage, said Corky Towne, owner of Towne Restoration, an Elkhart-based company that repairs water and fire damage to structures.
"When you get a lot of snow like this, and then it freezes (over the eaves), when it melts from the sun during the day, the water can't get off the roof," Towne said. "Then it runs back down under the shingles and then into the walls of your house."
Towne predicted he will start seeing a lot of water damage cases in coming weeks as the weather warms.
He said there are three things homeowners and businesses can do to prevent such problems:
- Melt the snow with a high-pressure power washer, preferably with warm water. These machines can be rented.
- Use a snow rake to pull snow off the front edge of the roof, thereby keeping the eaves clear. This should be done from the ground or a ladder, rather than climbing onto the roof, especially if the roof is pitched. Leaves from the fall also should be cleared from the eaves.
- Place an electric cable along the edge of the roof and plug it in. These cables keep snow melted. Towne noted this must be done before any snow has fallen.