Roof of Winchester building collapses, one person sent to hospital

Published 11:07 am Thursday, February 23, 2023

By Warren Taylor and Matt Cizek

Staff Report

The roof of a Winchester building collapsed Thursday morning, sending one woman to Clark Regional Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

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The Winchester and Clark County Fire departments responded to a call at 1 East Lexington Avenue at 9:29 a.m.

“Initially, what it looks like is that a parapet wall on the bravo (left) side of the building collapsed onto the roof of third-floor apartments,” said Winchester Fire Chief Chris Whitely. “What you have is a roofline and a wall that extends above that, which is what fell on top of the roof. There was a substantial amount of water within the structure.”

According to Whitely, a structural engineer was soon on the scene assessing the damage. The building was condemned until further notice later in the morning and its utilities were cut off.

There was also an initial fear the collapse might affect nearby buildings.

“The concern now is all of the buildings going left. With that building collapsing, it puts pressure, with nothing really restraining it, and it could fall to the left. So we don’t want it to fall on any other structures,” he said.

Main Street and Lexington Ave were closed most of the morning, but Main Street was open by early afternoon.

The good news is that no other injuries were reported.

“Everyone else that lives there has been accounted for, and we have talked to them on the phone,” Whitely said.

The building’s property manager Linda Lankford said that the building houses three apartments and the office of Power House Realty and Gooch Auction Group. Seven tenants reside in the apartments. According to a property records search by the Sun, the building is owned by Thomas and Annette Goebels of Winchester.

Whitely said the Red Cross is contacting the tenants to secure other housing arrangements.

The collapse also, unfortunately, affected the interior of the realty firm and auction group that shared the building.

“It has flooded. All the water [has] just come in and flooded”, said Rony Jo Ballou, the principle broker for both entities.

An employee said this is not the first time the office has been a mess due to issues with the building.

“This is the second time she (Ballou) has come in and found her office in this kind of condition,” said Matt Coomer, the realty firm’s sales manager. “She just got it all back together in the past few months, and we’re starting over again.” Ballou is trying to find a silver lining in the collapse.

“We just try to stay positive about it all. Well, get it taken care of”, she said. “We’ll still keep working. That’s not going to slow us down.”

This is not the first downtown building to be condemned due to water damage in the last two years.

A property formerly owned by Winchester resident Wes Cartwright suffered a partial floor collapse due to flash flooding in October 2021.

The building was later condemned and purchased by the city. Its demolition is ongoing.

Cartwright sued the city of Winchester last year alleging that officials knew the Town Branch system that ran under the building needed to be replaced but did nothing about it.