Snow causes partial collapse of roof on Cherry Street

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News

Emergency crews on Dec. 11 responded to a call of a partially collapsed roof at a business on Cherry Street. 

A support beam inside Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn buckled under the weight of heavy wet snow on the roof of the historic building, causing a gas line to rupture. 

Black Mountain firefighters arrived on the scene around 7 a.m. and immediately turned off the gas to the building. 

Black Mountain firefighters respond to a  partially collapsed roof on Cherry Street on Dec. 11.

"The gas line inside the building was hit and one area was a "T" intersection, which was broken," said lieutenant Brad Williams. "We cut the gas to the building when we arrived, but the gas company is on the scene and they're shutting down gas to this part of the street."

The structure is a contributing building in the Black Mountain Downtown Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. The lower level, which is home to Sassafras on Sutton, was built in 1912. The space occupied by Poppy on the upper level was constructed in 1915. 

Both businesses were forced to remained closed while officials assessed the damage.

"There is an old, turn-of-the-century truss system in there," said Black Mountain building inspector Dan Cordell. "The weight from the snow broke one of them. The second one in, they're about four feet apart, is showing signs of breaking too."

The collapse caused damage in Poppy and threatened the bookstore below it as well, Cordell said. 

"I'm worried about (Sassafras) too," he said. "That roof could come all the way through because the floor wouldn't hold all of the weight if it fell."

A structural engineer will be contacted to advise how to best stabilize the building, Cordell continued. 

"We'll see what can be done to get the support shored up and try to clear some of the weight off of the top," he said. "The weight of the snow is definitely what caused the collapse."

A section of Sutton Avenue in downtown Black Mountain was closed off by firefighters who were responding to reports of a partially collapsed roof on Dec. 11.

Firefighters blocked off parts of Cherry Street and Sutton Avenue with yellow tape due to the potential dangers associated with the severed gas line. 

"And the structural integrity has been compromised," Williams said. "With the one beam broken, that means the rest are under more stress."

The collapse occurred when the building was empty and no injuries were reported, according to the Black Mountain Fire Department.