Accumulated snow takes toll on Fargo-Moorhead area roofs in recent collapses
Caution tape surrounds the office building at 3301 13th Avenue South in Fargo on Thursday, March 14, 2019, after snow collapsed the roof of the structure. David Samson / The Forum
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FARGO — The Fargo-Moorhead area may have dodged the worst of the latest winter storm to move through the region, but snow accumulated over a particularly snowy February and a heavy, wet 9-inch snowfall in early March continues to take its toll on the roofs of businesses, apartment buildings and garages in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Early Thursday, March 14, the sagging roof of a south Fargo commercial building finally collapsed under the weight of heavy snow.

The roof collapse at 3301 13th Ave. S. came two days after the four businesses in the building were evacuated.

Fargo Battalion Chief Joe Mangin told The Forum that the building is actually now safer that it collapsed. "It's the safest we could make it," Mangin said, adding that the utilities have been shut off and no one was inside at the time of the collapse.

Structural engineers now need to evaluate the building, which has been tagged by city officials as dangerous and unlawful to enter.



Also Thursday, WDAY-TV reported that Fargo firefighters were called to 507 11th Ave. S. shortly before 6:30 a.m. to remove snow at the Greving Apartments.
A resident, who reported that an area of the ceiling was sagging, was safe and taken to another part of the building, a battalion chief on the scene said.

None of the building’s tenants were evacuated and firefighters completed shoveling snow from the roof just before 9 a.m.

Mangin said crews don’t normally remove snow from roofs, but the emergency response was needed to remove weight and prevent the roof from completely giving way. He said a construction company was already working to shore up the roof by the time firefighters departed.

In Moorhead, a garage roof was reported collapsed at 505 5th St. S . No one was hurt in that incident, Capt. Todd Church said. Late on Thursday, March 14, a report came in that a Fargo garage had collapsed.

Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton officials, who closed the schools late Tuesday night, have said they would re-evaluate the safety of all of their school roofs after this most recent storm finishes.

A structural engineer will look at the buildings again Friday, March 15, Superintendent Bryan Thygeson said Thursday. Thygeson said multiple levels on the roofs of the schools were creating issues.

Schools were closed Wednesday, March 13, as a precaution after a structural engineer had found possible structural dangers on DGF High School and Glyndon-Felton Elementary School in Glyndon, a combined structure separated by a corridor which was one of the trouble spots. The roof above three classrooms was also a problem area. Thursday, Friday and Monday were already set aside for break at DGF’s schools.


The DGF School Board will hold a special board meeting Monday, March 18, to determine how to move forward in terms of any repairs needed and evaluate the overall safety of the buildings for continuing classes.

In Fargo, snow load caused three or four rafters to break on a roof at Centennial Elementary School, 4201 25th St. S., on Tuesday, March 12.

Centennial roof collapse 2.jpg
No injuries were reported in the Centennial Elementary roof collapse. Students and staff are on spring break until March 19. Special to The Forum

Maintenance and Operations Director Jim Frueh said the district had been aware of a structural issue and had drained the sprinkler system. An employee was on fire watch at the school when the partial roof collapse occurred.

No one was injured, and school is expected to resume Monday, March 18.

On Wednesday, Red River High School in Grand Forks also dismissed classes about an hour and a half early due to a sagging roof over the administration offices.

A building manager was checking for structural issues when he noticed the sagging roof. Approximately 15 feet of snow had drifted on the roof, WDAY-TV reported. Engineers will still have to assess whether students can safely return to classes, Red River’s principal said.


Also in the past 10 days, snow is thought to have contributed to roof collapses at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church at 601 15th Ave. N. in Moorhead, Trail King Industries at 2130 3rd Ave. NW. in West Fargo, Matt's Automotive Service Center at 1234 First Ave. N. in Moorhead and Goldmark Office Park, 1715 Gold Drive S. No injuries were reported in any of those incidents either.

Related Topics: MOORHEAD
Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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