‘Snow pool’ knocks 30′ hole in Gateway Freddie’s roof – again

Officials aren’t saying if this partial cave-in is related to the collapse that happened four years ago. Find out what we did learn about the incident …

Shoppers looked puzzled and confused when they were directed to stay away from the Gateway Fred Meyer store last Saturday.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“This is kind of creepy; the roof fell in at the same place a few years ago,” was the sentiment expressed by shopper Marta Sanchez as she walked away from the yellow tape which warned shoppers to stay away from the Gateway Fred Meyer store on December 27.

She was right: the roof once before gave way at this store, in nearly the same place – on the store’s west side – in January, 2004.

In this four-year-old East Portland News archive photo, workers clear debris and begin to rebuild the section damaged after part of the Gateway Freddie’s roof collapsed.

It happened again – in nearly the same spot – as this PF&R photo shows.

Finds roof top ‘swimming pool’
Some reports said shoppers were in the store when the roof caved in this week. But, according to Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) spokesperson Kim Kosmas, “The collapse happened when only a few employees were in the store.  Everyone was able to escape without any injuries.”

When PF&R crews rolled up to the store on NE 102nd Avenue at 7:10 a.m., Kosmas said they discovered a 30′ x 30′ section of roof had collapsed on the side of the building facing the Gateway MAX station.

According to Kosmas, roof drains were blocked by a heavy accumulation of snow. When it started raining on Saturday morning, there was nowhere for the water to go. “This caused a ‘swimming pool effect’ on the roof,” stated Kosmas.

Water gushing from the store’s sprinkler system added to the mess at this Fred Meyer store. PF&R photo

Broken pipe floods store
As the roof gave way, falling debris struck the store’s fire suppression system water pipes, knocking them loose from a sprinkler riser pipe. “That added insult to injury, with additional water pouring into the structure,” Kosmas noted.

PF&R crews were concerned that a secondary collapse might occur, and closely monitored the structure until they relinquished control of the scene to the building owners and structural engineers. The fire crews were gone by 10:00 a.m.; the store employees looked to be involved in recovery efforts when we arrived at noon.

Our request to speak with a Fred Meyer official on-scene was greeted with a gruff rebuff, preventing us from being able to report on the recovery effort, but the store did reopen the following day.

A little after 12 noon, heavy cranes, like this one, started rolling on scene to help workers with damage control and reconstruction efforts.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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