As roofs collapse, Bend-area govts. offer safety advice

Hotline until 5 p.m.; rain on snow threatens soon

BEND, Ore. - This week's spate of frightening roof and building collapses around Bend and Central Oregon prompted an advisory update from Bend-area governments Thursday that focuses on what the safe snow load is on roofs and what you should do to ease the danger.

Here's their joint announcement, in full:

The collapse of an elementary school gym and two large commercial buildings has raised concern. We know roofs are being loaded but there is a risk to climbing on your roof to remove snow, too. So, how do you know whether to remove snow?

 Highest concern buildings:

  • Flat roofs.
  • Large open area buildings, such as warehouses and gyms, with no internal structural support.


Building owners: If you have questions about the safety of your building, you may consider getting private structural engineers to evaluate structures. In addition to structural engineers, architects may be helpful to contact, or contact the contractor who build your home.

Structures built in Bend with building permits are designed to handle 25 pounds per square foot, which equates to about 20 inches of snow. Older structures, built before the adoption of building codes in Bend (late 1960’s), may not meet this minimum standard. Manufactured homes are designed to carry 30 pounds per square foot, or about 2 feet of snow. Flat roofs are more of a concern, because they tend to hold more snow moisture.

Snow weights average 15-20 pounds per square foot (less for cold light and fluffy more for wet heavy and/ or compacted).

Unfortunately, manufactured and mobile homes, carports and accessory structures may have only roof loads capacity of 20 pounds or even less, per code. We are seeing failures in the lighter snow load capacity roofs now and if you have one of these types of structure one needs to take appropriate action to protect life and property.

Future concerns: Rainfall (which is in the forecast next week) on top of snow can add a significant amount of weight to a roof rapidly. If the snow continues to pile up over 20-25 inches on your house, consider removing it from the roof.

It is very dangerous to climb on the roof in snow conditions, please either use a snow rake from the ground or contact a licensed professional, such as an arborist or a roofing contractor to access the roof. Pay attention to where the snow will land if you choose to use a snow rake, and watch out for falling icicles.

Information Hotline

For public information, agencies have established a hotline today until 5 p.m. The number is 541-322-6330 and this phone line is located in an interagency Emergency Operations Center. For immediate emergency service, call 911.

 The City of Bend (Fire, Police, Streets, Utilities), Deschutes County (Sheriff’s Office, 911, Road Department and Emergency Services Manager), Red Cross, Bend-La Pine Schools, Central Oregon Community College, Bend Parks and Recreation District, City of Redmond, Redmond Police and Fire, City of Sisters and Sisters Fire, Sunriver’s Police and Fire, La Pine Fire Department and St. Charles Medical Center are all working together to keep the community safe.

 Community safety is all of our foremost concern.

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