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‘Tremendous shock:’ students, MSU staff react after gym roof collapses

Posted: 11:10 AM, Mar 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-08 13:10:26-05

BOZEMAN – It was anything but a normal Thursday morning on the campus of Montana State University after a roof above one of their fitness complexes collapsed.

Crews have been on-scene, assessing the damage since the South Gym roof caved in during the early morning on Thursday. Officials say no one was injured in the incident.

It was not just a portion of the Marga-Hoseaus South Gym Fitness Complex roof that collapsed into the gym below. It was the entire roof.

MSU staff say that caused damage to the floor — but while the investigation continues, they can’t say for sure what caused this.

“It’s a tremendous shock,” says Michael Becker, MSU spokesman. “I mean, no one expected to wake up to a roof missing from a gymnasium this morning.”

It started with a call at around 2:20 am on Thursday.

MSU spokesperson Michael Becker says crews from Bozeman Fire Department and MSU campus police responded only to find a gaping hole where the South Gym’s roof used to be.

“Overnight, we had emergency responders on-scene, making sure that everything was safe as could possibly be, that means turning off utilities, it means turning off electrical and assessing the situation,” Becker says.

While the investigation will take a while to figure out what exactly caused the incident, students say the facility was incredibly important to them.

“We usually go to the gym every morning and he said, ‘hey, like, we’re not going to be able to go to the gym today,’” says Stephanie Stanger, a second-year nursing student at MSU. “Do you want the good news or the bad news?”

Stephanie Stanger says she and her husband relied on the complex every day, as a study hall and a place just to get warm.

“Oh, so important,” Stanger says. “This is, like, 100-percent of my day. I’ll go. I’ll study there. It’s, like, I get everything done at the gym. Plus, they have the fire. It’s the only place on campus that has the fire.”

“We’re assessing the structural integrity of the rest of the walls in the building, of the gymnasium,” Becker says. “That’s an assessment that is ongoing.”

Becker says that is why all buildings connected to the South Gym will be closed until further notice.

“MSU is immensely grateful that we had no injuries from this event and we have moved passed the emergency phase of it,” Becker says.

“It’s a real bummer and I hope they can get it up and running and we can get back in it soon,” Stanger says.

Becker did tell us that the university would be notifying faculty and students over social media as to the progress of the cleanup and the investigation.

Officials say the Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center will remain closed Friday, March 8. All classes and events in the facility are canceled.

The university is working on a plan so students can retrieve personal belongings in the locker rooms or other areas of the Fitness Center. The plans will be released as soon as details are available.

In a release on the MSU website, officials said that university staff and engineers are working to reduce the weight of snow on the North Gym roof using a variety of techniques that will not result in additional stress on the building.

Crews will also be checking the surrounding buildings, like Shroyer Gym and the Fieldhouse, to make sure they were not impacted by this.

-Cody Boyer reporting for MTN News