Powerful storm topples wall of South Carroll sports arena

Damage occurs during indoor soccer game

no injuries reported

Eldersburg

May 04, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

A rainstorm with sudden gusts of wind Sunday evening toppled a wall at an Eldersburg sports arena during a soccer game, damaging the roof of an adjoining warehouse and causing a power outage at an elementary school. No injuries were reported.

Construction crews yesterday were rebuilding the brick-and-block wall at South Carroll Sports Arena along Progress Way near Route 32. A Carroll County inspector posted an "unsafe" sign at the arena at 10 p.m. Sunday and repair crews cut off utilities yesterday until exposed wires could be replaced.

"We are basically cleaning up today and then we will rebuild and tie the wall into the roof," said Josie Kaminski, property manager for Merritt Properties, which owns the 17,000-square- foot building. "Structurally, everything is fine and we should be reopening in a few days."

Kaminski, an Eldersburg resident, said she heard the storm but did not consider it powerful enough to rip out a 16-inch-thick brick wall and severely damage a nearby roof. She never imagined the devastation she saw when she visited the scene Sunday night.

She said the arena wall was in pieces and about 80 feet of the roof on Dal-Tile warehouse, which occupies space behind the arena building, had buckled. The wind also tore out insulation and shifted skylights in the warehouse roof.

The arena's large dock doors were left open during a women's soccer game to increase ventilation. The ensuing wind pressure might have caused the wall to crumble, said Michael Maring, county bureau chief of permits and inspections.

The toppled wall was not a weight-bearing structure supporting the roof, Maring said.

"The pressure can build to the point where it causes a wall to fall," Maring said. "We are talking about a 30 mile-an-hour wind blowing through large open doors. But, in this case, it was not a bearing wall and there was no damage to the roof."

Kaminski said construction crews will be working on the wall and the warehouse roof all week.

"Fortunately, we have construction crews building right across the street and we can put them on the repair work right away," Kaminski said.

The storm did no damage to other buildings in the large industrial park, just north of Route 26. The tallest building, the three-story Merritt Athletic Club near the arena, was closed at the hour of the storm and was not damaged, said Sharon Icenroad, general manager.

The storm also knocked out utilities at Winfield Elementary in southwestern Carroll, which opened yesterday with no power or water. Crews worked all morning and had the building back to full operation by midday. Classes continued throughout the outage.

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