Meadville Tribune

Local News

January 8, 2010

Fair barn's collapse not first time for Cover-All

WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — The collapse of the large fabric-and-steel dairy barn at the Crawford County Fairgrounds is now one of at least a half dozen of that type of structure to fail in the last eight years. One of the most notable was in May when a practice building for the Dallas Cowboys football team collapsed, injuring a dozen people.

The Heritage Hall Dairy Barn at the Crawford County Fairgrounds collapsed Wednesday — the apparent victim of heavy snow on its steep-sloped roof, but caused no injuries.

The 120-foot by 320-foot barn was built less than two years ago at a cost of $465,000 as a show arena, mainly for dairy exhibitions, and could house up to 320 cows.

The building was built by Cover-All Building Systems of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

At least five others built by Cover-All or a related company, Summit Structures LLC, have collapsed since 2002 — three of which were due to heavy snow on their roofs, according to the Associated Press.

“I don’t like the history,” Morris Waid, who is Crawford County commissioner chairman and head of the fair board, said when informed by a reporter Thursday afternoon. “I’m surprised. It makes you wonder how many more will go.”

Waid said concerns were raised about snow load, but the barn was designed for the heaviest snow loads possible in northwest Pennsylvania and had been billed as all-but-indestructible, he said.

County work crews had been shoveling snow from the roofs of fairgrounds buildings this week, but not the big dairy barn’s.

The building’s design is a quonset — a steep-pitched or rounded roof with two open ends —designed to have snow slide off, Waid said.

“Last year, the snow slid right off of it,” Waid said at Thursday’s county commissioner meeting. “We never gave it a thought.”

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