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With Rash of Roof Collapses, Anxiety Heightens

Residents have been calling town and fire officials concerned about the possibility of more roof collapses.

Parents and other residents have been calling town offices to report excess snow on roofs and cracks in walls and ceilings, worried about the danger to their own homes and schools.

The level of anxiety has heightened since a Tuesday night, and then Wednesday morning when town officials after cracks were found and ceiling tiles were displaced, possibly due to the weight of snow on the roof.

A structural engineer later determined no danger existed, officials said. Since then, however, officials and educators have sought to alleviate concerns about more roof collapses occurring around town.

"Everybody is seeing the cracks," said Terri Santaniello, the office manager for Children's Adventure Center on Riverside Road.

In response to complaints from parents and others about the excess snow and ice on the preschool's roof, the town sent over workers to shovel the snow — clearing about half of it as of Wednesday afternoon, Santaniello said.

The workers were expected to return to finish the other half, Santaniello said, adding the situation has been compounded by snow that has built up around some of the windows and large icicles hanging along the windows.

"Some of them are as wide as tree trunks," she said of the icicles.

Santaniello said she has tried to assure parents as much as possible, adding she and others in the building are staying vigilant.

"I don't feel uncomfortable," she said. "We all know what to look for."

At the public schools, Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson said that all of the roofs have been inspected and none are in danger of collapsing. A structural engineer will be doing a walk through at Sandy Hook School on Thursday to confirm the building is safe for occupancy, she said.

Meanwhile, the property at Blue Linx, 201 S. Main St., remains closed after the third roof collapse on Tuesday. Firefighters were called to the scene at about 5 p.m., Tuesday, and ordered the utilities turned off and the site shut down due to the danger of more roof collapses.

While the power was turned off, the gas was not. Officials said company representatives told them the site did not have any natural gas coming to it.

But then, about an hour after firefighters and officials left the scene, more of the building — closer to South Main Street — appeared to have collapsed even more. In the process, the collapse knocked out the natural gas meters and led to a massive leak of the gas line, Botsford Fire Chief Wayne Ciaccia said.

"When the crew got there, you could hear it," he said of the gas pouring out of the pipes.

Yankee Gas was summoned and a temporary evacuation of the nearby area was ordered until the gas line could be turned off.

The site will remain completely closed until the company can draw up demolition plans, Ciaccia said.

"They just have to demo everything," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Atlanta, GA-based Blue Linx did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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