PDT Staff Report
Ever since the Columbia Music Hall caught fire in the early hours of Nov. 11, there have been a number of different scenarios circulating throughout the community as to its cause.
One question that's been asked is in regards to the structural integrity of the building after the fire.
On Tuesday afternoon, the city of Portsmouth hired a structural engineer to judge whether the building could be salvaged for remodel.
“We had a structural engineer from ME consulting out of Cincinnati, said Chris Payton, building official with the city of Portsmouth. He was able to perform a site inspection. It was no detailed formal inspection. He was able to determine the stability of the structure.”
The findings concluded the back wall was the major concern.
“The outside walls need to be capped, soon,” he explained. Where the walls end, there are caps, so water cannot travel through the wall.
Payton said the back wall is not braced to what's left of the roof system and is free-standing.
“In time, the wall could fall down without being braced. We would like to see it braced soon. The opinion of the engineer was that the building was salvageable,” he said.
The city will be looking for a report as well as a scope of work from the owner's structural engineer and documentation.
“Before any work's done, the back wall will have to be braced, and a detailed plan on how they are going to do that,” Payton said. “That's the immediate concern right now. In our opinion, with enough money and time, it could be rebuilt.”