Roof of Edmonton seniors' centre collapses

No one was injured when the roof of a seniors' centre collapsed in north Edmonton Tuesday.
The roof of the Northgate Lions Senior Citizens Recreation Centre partially collapsed Tuesday. ((Courtesy St. Michael's Health Group))

About 150 people escaped injury when the snow-covered roof of a seniors' centre collapsed in north Edmonton Tuesday.

Thirty were members of a seniors' choir that was rehearsing in the auditorium of the Northgate Lions Senior Citizens Recreational Centre.

Around 1:15 p.m., staff noticed tiles were coming loose from the ceiling of the 36-year-old building and the roof was starting to bow. The roof collapsed almost immediately after they rushed people out of the auditorium and the centre's multi-purpose rooms

"People had to run out without their coats and without their purses in some cases," said Rob Smythe from the city's community services department.

Fire officials conducted two searches of the building to make sure no one was trapped inside.

The northeast wall of the structure also crumbled in the roof collapse. The building will remain closed until further notice.

A relatively large amount of snow has accumulated in Edmonton during the month of January.

Alberta Health and Safety investigators have ordered the city to use a third-party engineering firm to investigate the cause of the collapse.

The city will now examine all city buildings with large, flat roofs to ensure there is no danger of another collapse.

"When you get the warming like we've had for a prolonged period of time, coupled with the amount of snow that we've got on the roof, that's where concern has started," said Paul Specht, the city's director of buildings and facilities maintenance.

This isn't the first roof collapse to occur in the Edmonton area.

On Friday, a man and his five-year-old son were able to escape when the snow-covered roof of an automotive shop in Spruce Grove caved in.