The roof of a college dormitory in Western North Carolina partially collapsed on Sunday, Jan. 16, as heavy snowfall battered the region — which school officials said was likely to blame.
Several dozen students were in the building at the time, according to reports, but no one was hurt.
The incident occurred around 3:15 p.m. at Brevard College on the eastern side of Jones Hall, school administrators said in a Facebook post. Jones is one of five residence halls on the campus, which sits in Transylvania County about 35 miles outside of Asheville.
“Jones Hall Residents Advisors responded immediately and all students were safely evacuated and accounted for, with no injuries reported,” the school said.
Officials attributed the collapse to “heavy snowfall weather conditions.” At least 10 inches of snow had fallen in Brevard by 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 16, meteorologist Jim Cantore tweeted. Cantore is famous for going to places with the worst weather conditions.
When the roof collapsed, Brevard Fire Department spokesperson Adam Hughey told The Transylvania Times 50 students were in the dorm, which houses about 84 students during the school year.
Jonathan Griffith, a first-year student, was on the porch of the dormitory about to have a snowball fight with friends when it happened, according to the newspaper. He took off running and immediately thought about everything that got left inside — including his cellphone.
“It was like something straight out of a movie,” Griffith told The Transylvania Times. “I just saw stuff start flying. I heard a rumbling noise. It was loud, and I was out of there. I hit my 40-yard-dash, and probably ran a 4.5”
Sophomore Melody Ferguson said she saw the roof collapse as she was walking by Jones Hall, WLOS reported. She told the media outlet that friends who were across campus thought it was a car crash.
“Very scary,” Ferguson said, according to WLOS. “I’m still shaking to this moment.”
Someone pulled the fire alarm after the roof caved in, allowing everyone to get out quickly, WLOS reported.
Parents Dwayne and Christy Yancy shared a picture of the building on Facebook that their son sent, saying his room is directly below the section of roof that caved in and that he evacuated with just “the clothes on his back.”
“We’re relieved that all the students are safe and that they’re all in warm places for the night,” they said. “Stuff can be replaced but I feel like all his things are ok. It’s a pretty helpless feeling to not be able to rush up there to him.”
The Yancys said their son was told he could return to his room briefly on Monday, Jan. 17, to grab any necessary items.
Each floor of Jones Hall is separated by concrete to prevent the ceiling on lower levels from also caving in, The Transylvania Times reported, citing Hughey and Brevard Police Chief Bobby Cooper. Hughey and Cooper said some rooms, however, might have water damage from the collapse.
Brevard College officials said students have been placed in temporary accommodations while a building inspector and emergency response crews assess the building.