Alaska Officials Warn of Hospital Building Collapse

November 4, 2011

City officials are warning that the old hospital building in Ketchikan is deteriorating and likely will collapse, perhaps as early as this winter if nothing is done.

The City Council is expected Thursday to consider declaring the building a public emergency so that Ketchikan can hire a contractor to quickly come up with a plan to demolish it, the Ketchikan Daily News reported Wednesday.

Public Works Director Clif Allen said in a memo that a notable “deflection” has developed in the past two years on the roof and upper floor of the building owned by a Seattle nonprofit organization. Allen said city employees have kept an eye on the building and its condition has worsened.

“Each passing month has witnessed an additional one-half to one inch of increasing deflection,” Allen wrote. “With the known sagging of the roof and the constant flow of water into the structure, it is believed that the roof will likely risk partial collapse if the winter season provides a moderate snow load.”

Allen said barriers are in place to keep pedestrians off the adjacent sidewalk. The parking area in front of the building also has been blocked off.

Allen recommended that the Council declare an emergency and allow the city to negotiate a contract with a Juneau firm that has experience with similar buildings. The city has included $1 million for the demolition project in the draft 2012 budget.

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