Church group escapes before roof collapses

  • Brooke Fisher<br>Enterprise editor
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 11:54am

Perhaps it was divine intervention. At least that’s likely the sentiment of a dozen people who safely escaped a church building before the roof partially collapsed.

On Sunday, Feb. 25, at about 2:30 p.m., members of a church group were meeting in a one-story building at Shoreline Christian Church when they heard the roof begin to cave in. All members escaped the structure shortly before the roof fell. They called 911 to report the collapse. There were no injuries.

The group meeting in the building was not part of the Shoreline Community Church congregation, which has more than 600 members. Rather, the church members were affiliated with Seattle Fijian Fellowship, which rents the small building from the Shoreline church.

“They were out of the building when the roof fell in,” said Patti Gibbons, church staff, adding that the cause was likely rain water that had collected on the flat roof.

By the time firefighters arrived, the north and south walls of the building were bowed out and the flat roof was sagging. The building is one of several owned by Shoreline Christian Church, located on the corner of Second Avenue Northeast and 185th Street. The church campus is comprised of the main building, the east annex, south annex and four rental properties, according to church staff.

“They heard funny noises, like creaking, and things that didn’t sound right and luckily, instead of standing around and asking questions and debating, they got out,” said fire department spokesperson Melanie Granfors. “That was the right thing to do.”

On the flat roof was the “equivalent of a small pond,” said Granfors. A fire truck was able to pump gallons of water from the roof, she said. The water likely accumulated after several rainstorms, perhaps as a result of clogged gutters.

“It wasn’t a full-on cave in, but was a partial collapse of the roof and the sides,” said Granfors. “The weight pushed the sides out and destroyed the little building, making it unsafe to occupy.”

The building has been fenced off with a chain-link fence and yellow caution tape to alert people that it is no longer a safe structure.

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