By Frank Lewis
Jack Vetter stood, like other bystanders, in front of a building he owns at 530 Second St., in Portsmouth, Wednesday afternoon, surveying the piles of bricks that had come from the top of the building crashing onto the alley below.
“We had 10 inches of snow, and it started raining into the snow, and it just couldn’t take the weight,” Vetter said. “So it just collapsed. It happened right around midnight last night (Tuesday).”
Vetter said he estimates the building was constructed in 1870. As Vetter watched, the current occupants of the building, a business known as Awesome Town, carried armloads of merchandise out and placed it in the accumulated snow along the sidewalk in the 500 block of Second Street.
“They’re getting the things they can get to go,” Vetter said.
Portsmouth City Service Director Bill Beaumont said he received a call Wednesday morning from Portsmouth City Manager Derek Allen.
“He called and said we need more barricades,” Beaumont said. “All I was told is that a building had collapsed.”
Sawhorse barricades with yellow tape told motorists the two blocks within that area were off limits, and pedestrians who were standing close to the building were being told to stay back for fear of additional collapse.
Vetter said he was on his way to the city building.
“It will be torn down,” Vetter said.
People who work in other buildings within the block said they are surprised more of the buildings had not already collapsed as many are in disrepair.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.