Weather, Age, Deterioration to Blame For Building Collapse

12:01 AM, Jun 27, 2013   |    comments
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Winston-Salem, NC -- A vacant warehouse collapsed Wednesday evening in Winston-Salem.

A fire spokesman says the collapse happened at the old Skinner Warehouse at 111 E. 10th St. around 8 p.m. Wednesday. That's the old Piedmont Leaf Tobacco Company warehouse.

"The fire department got dispatched to an explosion at 930 North Patterson Avenue. When units first arrived, they realized it was the incorrect address and had an instinct the old Piedmont Leaf Tobacco Company warehouse was the one that may have collapsed or exploded. They responded to this location where they found a 200 foot long section by 40 foot high section where the building had collapsed in on itself," explained Captain Scottie Emerson, Winston-Salem Fire Department. 

Emerson estimates the building is 8,000 square feet and nearly 80 years old. It had been vacant for several years, but fire fighters searched the property for people and used thermal imaging. They did not find anyone and there were no injuries.

"For this assessment, past history, the building had a fire in it years ago and I'm sure age, deterioration over time, weather conditions, finally took its toll on the building tonight," explained Emerson.

Emerson also contributes recent weather conditions for the collapse. 

"The water today may have been in the right spot to trigger the collapse. It's called an added live load when you add rain to something that's not figured into the engineering principals. With the deterioration over time and weakening of the structures, it may have been a technical house of cards, the right amount of rain today and the right place, caused this building to collapse," said Emerson." But also, past history."

Emerson says this is the largest building collapse he has seen in his 27-year-career in Winston-Salem. 

WSPD, WSFD, Forsyth County Communications, WFMY News 2

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