Roof collapses at Foster City hotel
By Liz Harrelson
Palo Alto Daily News
A slow-moving avalanche of rotten wood and drywall brought down a portion of the Crowne Plaza Hotel's roof in Foster City on Thursday, prompting a partial evacuation and the shuttering of at least 60 hotel rooms on the eve of a massive Jehovah's Witness convention.
No one was injured.
``Thank God no one was under that, that no one was hurt,'' said Foster City Mayor Linda Koelling as she viewed the damage.
At least 100 people and possibly as many as 120 were evacuated from the hotel after a manager standing in the entrance and beneath the unstable roof heard creaking and witnessed the roof fall about two feet, said San Mateo Fire Department battalion Chief Mike Borean.
``Apparently water had been collecting in there for quite some time and rotted out the structural beams,'' said Borean.
Around 5:45 p.m. the beams fell another 12 feet, though by that time the entire northern side of the 350-room hotel had been evacuated and the immediate area cordoned-off, said Borean.
``It's kind of scary, kind of crazy,'' said Kelly Branson, a resident of Plymouth, Calif., who is staying at the hotel and attending a three-day Jehovah's Witness convention at the Cow Palace, in Brisbane, which draws an estimated 10,000 worshippers.
Foster City Fire Department Battalion Chief Stan Maupin said wood weakened by dry rot caused the roof to fall.
``In general dry rot is caused by moisture getting into the wood and over a long period of time degrading the wood to a point where it will no longer hold it's own weight,'' said Maupin.
About 60 rooms were shut down Thursday night and will be inspected by a building official today before they are reopened, said Maupin.