Roof collapses at Veterans Hall in Fresno County

Amanda Aguilar Image
Sunday, July 23, 2023
Roof collapses at Veterans Hall in Fresno County
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A veterans hall in West Central Fresno has been deemed unsafe by Fresno Fire Department after its roof collapsed Friday.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- After 20 years of marriage, John and Angelique Estrada are looking forward to saying "We still do."

The couple had booked the event hall at the VFW Post to celebrate, but they'll be renewing their vows in the park out back.

"We're in shock. It's...I's very sad what happened to the Veterans Hall, but they're awesome," Angelique Estrada said. "They worked with us and they're letting us have it back here in the park area, which it all worked out."

On Friday afternoon, nearly 24 hours before the ceremony, the area of the roof above the event hall caved in.

Fresno Fire says crews responded around 4 p.m. for a gas explosion and collapsed building.

"Once we secured the gas and realized that there was no fire at all, we were really really able to downshift and then go into 'Okay, what really happened?'" Fresno Fire Battalion chief Brian Price said.

There were a few people inside at the time of the collapse, and thankfully they weren't injured because they weren't in the main hall.

Still in shock over the collapse - a VFW leader tells me they noticed a crack in the ceiling last Saturday, July 15.

"The next morning, it was noticed that there was a sagging depression in both the front of the halls center, roof ceiling, and on this backside, slight depression...a little, but it was noticeable," Interim quartermaster Jimmie Roberts said.

While the investigation is going, Fresno Fire believes the roof collapsed due to aging infrastructure, as well as the weight of the A/C units.

"Over the past months and weeks, some of the tenants had said they'd heard creaking, and seeing some visible signs of some sagging, but it's an old building," Price said. "They didn't really give a whole lot of concern to it besides an old building."

Since no one is allowed inside the building, the VFW can't host events...many have already been booked.

"It's definitely going to put an impact on the revenue possibility but it's going to throw a lot of people's plans in turmoil," Roberts said.

But the Estradas don't see it as an anniversary disaster...they're just thankful they'll still be able to spend this special day with loved ones.

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