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Officials: Warehouse collapse shows need for Spring Hope building code

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SPRING HOPE — The collapse of a commercial building in downtown Spring Hope last week underscores the need for blight rules, according to town officials.

Located on Main Street, the collapsed building is part of the former F.D. Bissette and Sons hardware store. It collapsed on Thursday, sending heavy bricks and debris onto neighboring businesses.

Town Manager Jae Kim said the collapse is a good example of why the town needs its new laws. Spring Hope recently adopted ordinances for minimum housing and blighted properties.

Kim recently sent notices to two neighboring structures: the former F.D. Bissette and Son Hardware, which is owned by Bissette Investments, and the former Devil Dog facility, which is owned by the Boston Book Co.

Both buildings have been empty for several years and are located in the same block as the collapsed structure.

“We’re going in the right direction,” Kim said. “Some of these buildings have been rotting away for decades.”

Kim said it’s unfortunate that the building collapsed on the new owner’s watch because he was trying to improve the structure.

The property had been recently purchased by John Clark, a carpenter who had planned to restore the building and turn it into an artisan center.

“He had braced the wall and was trying to rehab the building,” Kim said.

The collapse’s cause remains unclear, but the roof had existing damage, with many residents noting for some time that the wall appeared to be “leaning” toward neighboring buildings.

Neighboring Bubbles and Bows Pet Grooming sustained heavy damage and is in danger of additional roof collapse as a result of the heavy debris. Drone footage shows portions of the roof caving inward.

Bubbles and Bows owner Betsy Strickland said the business’ interior also sustained heavy damage. 

“I’m just glad nobody was inside,” Strickland said Thursday, showing a picture of the ceiling and roof boards collapsed into the area where pets are bathed. “Anyone standing there would have been killed.” 

No animals inside the pet salon were in the damaged area when the collapse occurred.

Faith Christian Ministries on Ash Street also received heavy damage from the collapse, with a portion of the rear roof caving in from debris. The pressure from the impact inside the store was so great that it blew the front windows out of the building.

Kim has asked during town meetings over the past several months for a building inspector but has received pushback from town commissioners who have questioned the need and cost of such a position.