Main Street closed indefinitely, employees look for temporary workspace after building collapse

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — A day after the top floor of an aging building on Main Street in uptown Beckley unexpectedly collapsed, the road remained closed.

Beckley City councilman Kevin Price, told 59 News this is due to safety precautions.

“Right now, there’s part of the upper portion of the building that’s unstable. You have the roof pushing in one direction, you have the sides that are unstable,” Price added. “So that could pretty much collapse at any time.”

Chief Code Enforcement Officer for the City of Beckley, Bob Cannon, said it is going to stay that way for the time being as engineers take this week to determine what exactly caused the roof of the Walton’ Bond Building to cave in around 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 25.

Cannon said the building was built long before Beckley Code Enforcement opened in the 1970’s, so they have no existing construction plans.

“The only way we’d find out what happened is when an engineer takes a look at it, and does some testing because you have to get inside and see,” Cannon said. “The usual area of concern would be if there is structural integrity that’s affected the support columns, in older buildings like this it could be wood.”

Cannon said they are also taking note of how any repairs would impact the surrounding buildings that also suffered damage from falling debris.

“Many of the buildings affected have common walls and flat roofs, which make the structural integrity suspect, so engineers will look at it before we issue any permits to repair,” Cannon said.

Cannon said the owners of the buildings will be responsible for repair costs, or demolition if they wish.

“The buildings that are occupied, they’ll wanna get back as quickly possible so they’ll hire the necessary contractors, turn in the plans, and we’ll expedite the permit process. We won’t hold that up,” Cannon explained.

One of the neighboring buildings that was affected housed some of the Jan Care Ambulance service storage and IT department. Director of Operations, Paul Seamann, said even without assessments from insurance agents, they evaluated more than $100,000 in damage. That includes medical supplies that are used to stock ambulances daily, computer equipment, and even their back up generator. With 105 ambulances across 13 counties, Seamann said Wednesday was all about getting massive reorders from vendors.

“Each day we have to go out and restock these ambulances in different divisions, and so it’s an ongoing process, to even be down for one or two days would be devastating,” Seamann said. “But our vendors have worked with us during all these other challenges, so we were able to go into their disaster plans to try to get things. So we’re gonna have a lot of trucks coming in.”

Seamann said their dispatch center was not late on a single call from the time the incident happened at 3:30 a.m. Dispatchers are now working in what is normally their billing department.

Meanwhile, businesses across from where the collapse happened are now feeling the impacts of a closed road, and some are a bit luckier than others.

Dragon’s Den just missed the caution tape cut off where Main Street is blocked to pedestrians and cars. The owner, Allen Walker, said they spent most of Wednesday making sure customers know they are open and making them aware of parking situations; however, Walker said he feels sorry for his neighbors.

“I feel bad for them, especially Roma’s Pizza,” Walker said. “A lot of our customers go to Roma’s because gaming and pizza always go well together.”

Walker said even UPS services cannot get down the street. They had to go and pick up their own deliveries.

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