High winds whipped across the North Coast on Wednesday, toppling tree limbs, power lines and fences and causing the roof of a building that used to house Astoria Ford to collapse.
Reports of the collapse along state Highway 202 off Youngs Bay came in just after 5 p.m. The front wall of the old portion of the building fell down and caused the roof to collapse. No one was injured.
“My guess is just that the winds got in there, whipped around and caused the roof to collapse,” Astoria Police Sgt. Brian Aydt said.
A power line stretching over the road in front of the building also came down. Police and fire personnel redirected traffic until 6:15 p.m. as they waited for Pacific Power to remove the line.
Brandon Golightly, 35, works at J&S Appliance and Home Furnishings and is the younger brother of Lewis and Clark Fire Chief Jeff Golightly. When he arrived home from work at roughly 4:45 p.m. just across the street from the old Astoria Ford, he noticed that the front wall of the building was shaking. A few minutes later, he ran outside after hearing the commotion.
Golightly initially helped divert traffic away from the downed power line. Helping him was Matt Hansen, 22, and Trey Brown, 19, both off-duty Port of Astoria officers.
Hansen was driving along the road with Brown in the passenger seat as the two headed to the beach to clam dig. Suddenly, though, they heard a commotion, looked over and saw the roof collapse.
“It came down fast,” Hansen said.
As sparks flew from the power line in the first few minutes after the collapse, the three men tried to reroute traffic until authorities arrived.
The building had been vacant since last year, when Dane Gouge opened the new Astoria Ford at the North Coast Retail Center in Warrenton. Barry Hess, owner of NAPA Auto Parts in Mill Pond, is in the process of buying land on the site to build a new store. Demolition crews had torn down part of the building, and construction had begun on the side closest to the highway.
Hess had hoped to move into the location by January and, while damage is still being assessed, he is optimistic the project will remain on track. He had already planned to replace the front wall, and the roof itself did not appear to sustain any damage. The back part of the building facing the bay — and the wind — did not have windows at the time of the collapse
Starting next week, workers will begin constructing a new wall and lifting the roof. The project’s timing will depend largely on scheduling.
“We didn’t really lose anything of value. It’s just the time loss that is going to hurt,” Hess said. “It does not look like it’s going to be a big deal.”
Police and fire personnel also responded to downed power lines, street signs and fences as high winds swept through Clatsop County.
A sheet metal roof atop an abandoned building at 1233 Duane St. flew off just after 1:30 p.m. The roof hung from another building before coming to rest underneath the sidewalk. No damage or injuries were reported.