031219 building collapse kw.jpg

A pedestrian at the corner of Woody and Alder streets looks at the debris left after a vacant building collapsed Monday afternoon under the weight of the snow. The building, on the north end of Missoula's downtown, shared a back wall with what was most recently Fran's 2nd Hand Store. No one was hurt in the collapse.

A vacant building in Missoula's downtown collapsed late Monday afternoon as it was being inspected for snow load.

Missoula Fire Chief Jeff Brandt said in a Monday evening news release that one of the building's neighbors called the fire department to say he'd seen a crack in the side of the building at 310 W. Alder. Two units and four firefighters responded, Brandt wrote.

"Upon arrival, fire crews found multiple cracks on the outside walls, a heavy snow load on the roof, melting snow and water pooling on the roof, and a person completing some construction work inside," Brandt wrote.

That person was asked to leave, and fire crews began cordoning off the area.

Battalion Chief Troy Ault called 911 and asked for a city inspector and NorthWestern Energy to come to the scene. NorthWestern turned off the gas and electricity, and two building inspectors arrived.

"Responders could hear the building moving and timbers snapping," Brandt wrote. "Moments later, the west end of the building collapsed."

No one was hurt, he said. 

Monday evening, brick and rubble were strewn across Alder Street, spilling into the street, across from the city-county health department. It shares a back wall with the former Fran's 2nd Hand Store and Stuff, which is closed and appears to be undergoing remodeling.

"We are asking people to stay out of the area while crews work to clean up the debris," Brandt wrote in a Facebook post.

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