Roofs, Propane Tanks Pose Dangers as Snow Continues to Fall

As much as ten feet of snow is now loaded onto Mammoth roofs, increasing the danger that buildings could suffer structural damage. Removing the snow as fast as possible is the best tactic, authorities say. Finding enough shovelers is a different story. Photo by Wendilyn Grasseschi
Staff Writer

The Mammoth Lakes Fire Department and the Town have some important and potentially life-saving information regarding how to identify issues with snow-laden roofs, propane tanks and more.
For example, heavy snow, like the current situation in Mammoth, can shift propane lines, creating leaks and sometimes, trapping the gas under the snow. All it takes is a spark and you have a real problem. Like falling ice, Mammoth has had its share of tragedies from this, and from carbon monoxide gas leaks - see more on this below. The other issue is the snow on roofs and what that does to the structure.
Here is some good info on all of this and contact numbers, from town and fire officials:
"The Town of Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District would like to remind residents of several life safety issues. These include the accumulation of large amounts of snow/ice on roofs, the blockage of vents for heating and hot water appliances, and the maintenance needed to safely use propane. Additionally, we request that residents keep property addresses visible and fire hydrants cleared.
Excessive Snow Loads & Roof Shedding: With the large accumulations of snow this season, roofs are already supporting a tremendous load. Some signs of excess snow weight on the roof include exterior/interior doors that do not open or close easily, cracks or bulging that occur in sheetrock walling, and bowing in timber members of ceilings/walls. Existing structures should be able to structurally withstand current snow loads, but it is recommended that you remove snow to prevent excessive snow accumulation. Even if all of the snow and ice cannot be removed, removing at least the top half to two thirds of the roof snow pack is very beneficial. As temperatures rise, roofs will shed snow and ice, especially metal roofs. Be extra careful where you walk and where children play, especially at all exits and entries. Keep your head up! Please contact the Town of Mammoth Lakes Building Division at 760-965-3635 if you are concerned with the structural integrity of your property.
Propane Tanks and Vents: For those homeowners that use propane, several responsibilities come with its use. The top of the tank needs to be routinely dug out and cleared to allow access to the shutoff valve and regulator venting. In addition, make sure that unprotected sections of all exterior gas pipes are cleared of snow/ice and protected from shedding snow and ice from your roof.
Downward snow pressure from snow settlement and falling snow/ice from roofs has caused many pipe sections to crack resulting in leaks. Unfortunately, if the leak occurs under the snow, the snow traps the gas and it may be some time before the leak is detected.
Homeowners, landlords and tenants need to make sure that vents for appliances are cleared of snow and inspected so that a build-up of carbon monoxide inside does not occur. It is highly recommended that carbon monoxide detectors be installed inside structures in order to alert occupants to the build-up of carbon monoxide gas. Please call the Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District at 760-934-2300 for additional information."

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