Snow Causes Roof Collapse at Knoxville Auto Garage

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KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Typically, at a garage you’ll hear all kinds of noise, but at Raceway Tire and Exhaust in Knoxville it’s eerily quiet. It wasn’t this way Tuesday afternoon, when employees started to hear noises they weren’t used to.

“We heard a light pop, didn’t think much about it. Then a couple more little pops, well we had to pull a car, the car that’s sitting in the bay, and once the door went up we heard a real loud pop and we figured out what was going on” said shop manager Arvin Van Der Linden.

The roof was buckling under the weight of the snow. Because of blowing snow, about four feet had collected in one area where two slopes of the roof came together in a valley. 45 minutes later it collapsed.

“Thankfully, nobody was inside at the time, nobody got hurt. All of this other stuff can be replaced so we’re just pretty fortunate that God was looking out for us” said Owner Travis Thompson.

There is one car trapped inside, but so far, no damage.

“Basically, what’s holding most of the ceiling up is the two-post hoist that’s right in the center of the shop, protected that car that’s there. Not sure when we’ll get the customer’s car out of there because we can’t get access to the overhead door” said Thompson.

In Iowa, roofs are required to hold at least 40 pounds per square foot of additional weight, but how many inches of snow that equals depends on how wet it is and if any ice has formed underneath. According to, two feet of old snow and two feet of new snow could weigh as much as 60 pounds per square foot.

“We thought a tornado would hit us before…we never thought of something like this” said Thompson.

Thompson says about 150 people have either helped or offered to help following the incident.

It’s unbelievable the number of people who have reached out to us already, its emotional, but thanks to those guys.

Thompson says they’re looking for a place to move their equipment so they can set up a temporary garage and get back to work.

A roofing specialist from Wolf Construction in West Des Moines says homeowners should start thinking about removing snow when it gets about two feet deep.


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