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Published February 11, 2010, 10:14 AM

Turkeys rescued when barn roof collapses

Quick thinking saved 12,000 turkeys from a heavy snow load.

By: By Tom Cherveny, Forum Communications Co.

SVEA, Minn. — Quick thinking saved 12,000 turkeys from a heavy snow load.

Workers and family members with Gorans Brothers were able to safely move approximately 12,000 turkeys from a brooder barn northeast of Svea when its roof collapsed around 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Late Monday afternoon, a roof on a warehouse building at Perkins Lumber in Willmar collapsed.

Brian Gorans said they do not know if the recent snowfall was the straw that broke the camel’s back and led to the collapse of the turkey barn roof, but it’s likely. The gabled style roof covered a 45-foot by 300-foot barn.

Gorans said it appeared that the weight was great enough in one area to break the truss, and most of the remainder of the roof collapsed in domino style.

A temperature alarm alerted the turkey producers to the problem, but it wasn’t until early morning that a crew of workers could be assembled and the turkeys transferred to a new barn.

The recent snows have added to the load on building roofs. Agricultural buildings and others with large roof spans are especially vulnerable.

Conditions this winter have allowed snow loads to remain on the buildings, and that is a concern due to the fatigue factor, according to Larry Jacobson, a University of Minnesota professor and engineer. Roofs that are built to hold 20 pounds per square foot are not designed to sustain that load for more than 30 days.

He urges building owners to keep an eye on their roofs. The accumulating snowpack, winds, freezing rains and lack of a thawing period have set the stage for bigger problems if we receive heavy, wet snows.

Tom Cherveny is a reporter at the West Central Tribune in Willmar, Minn., which is owned by Forum Communications Co.