Danger hangs above your head in Vail | VailDaily.com

Danger hangs above your head in Vail

Shane Macomber/Vail DailyTwo snowboarders wait for the bus beneath the snowy roof of Subway at the Lionshead parking garage.

VAIL, Colorado ” Moses Gonzales has set off in his truck and is canvassing the neighborhoods. He is looking for icicles. Dangerous icicles.

He sees small ones that are barely formed, and big ones that stretch 15 feet to the ground.

But what he is really looking for are the dangerous ones, the icy stalactites that hang above sidewalks or driveways. He is also looking for cornices of snow that jut out from rooflines. He is looking for slabs of snow that cling precipitously to slanted roofs.

“Sometimes you don’t see the danger that is right in front of you,” says Gonzales, a Vail code enforcement officer.

The Vail Police Department is checking out buildings for danger from ice and snow overhangs, and is giving out warnings to people whose buildings are dangerously loaded with snow.

According to the town, an icicle falling from as low as 10 feet can penetrate the roof of a car.

Gonzales says he hasn’t heard of a person being killed by an icicles.

“But I’m sure there has been,” he says.

In the late ’90s, an East Vail woman died when a slab of snow fell onto her off her house.

When the town gets lots of snow, as it has over the last month, the danger of snow and ice overhangs increases. When roofs have more than 3 feet of snow, they should be cleared, the town says. There are several companies around Vail that remove snow from roofs.

Sometimes people get warnings from the police if there are ice or snow overhangs on their buildings. They can even get tickets.

Gonzales checks out Timber Ridge. Not bad. They’ve been clearing snow off their roof where it hangs above the laundry room. Then he goes to the City Market. Again, the eaves seem satisfactory to Gonzales.

“They cleared it off,” he says. “They did a good job with that.”

But, in Lionshead, there are red flags. Gonzales spots them from a distance.

“That Montaneros building, that’s really scaring me,” he says.

Gonzales parks his truck and walks into Lionshead. He heads for the Montaneros building, and stares up at an overhang of snow some four stories high.

“You could walk in front of Charlie’s T-Shirts and get nailed by one of these,” Gonzales says.

Gonzales walks into the building and meets with Dan Martinez from the maintenance department. Martinez assures Gonzalez that they’ll take care of the overhang right away. For that particular section of roof, they have to call in outside contractors because it’s too steep and dangerous for in-house workers to clean, Martinez said.

Gonzales is satisfied. Most people are cooperative, he says and leaves Montaneros, eyes skyward, studying the roofs of Vail.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

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