Roof of downtown Enumclaw building collapses

The building collapsing on Cole St. was reinforced last Friday.

A handful of Sunday night diners – while enjoying a downtown dinner – heard what they thought might be thunder. But they quickly realized the roar had man-made origins.

It was about 9:30 the evening of July 5 when the roof of a vacant, cinder block building collapsed, sending city employees into hurry-up mode as Enumclaw’s busy Cole Street was quickly closed to pedestrians and motorists alike.

The building at the corner of Cole and Stevenson Avenue has been the focus of attention since.

City Administrator Chris Searcy said the city has been working with the local owner of the building to arrive at a timely solution to a pressing problem. The night of the accident, city crews closed Cole Street and flagged the area with yellow tape, taking immediate steps to keep people clear of the area. That proved only somewhat beneficial, as there were sightings of people stepping under the tape for a closer look.

By Friday, the city had found contractors able to put up a more secure barrier and reinforce the building. The building was encircled with a chain-link fence and, additionally, a contractor was able to physically brace the wall of the building from the outside, on the Cole Street side only. Searcy said the overriding concern to keep the public safe, while also getting a block of Cole open to shoppers and travelers.

The ultimate responsibility rests with the building owner, so the city is examining its legal options to recover any costs it incurs, Searcy said.

A resolution to the problem – whether the building is able to be repaired or simply demolished – should be reached before the end of the month, Searcy said.