Listen Live

Fire Officials Recommend Clearing Rooftop Ice Dams

Feb 19, 2020

A truck parked outside of the fire station in Aspen.
Credit Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Firefighters say a falling ice dam was likely to blame for a structure fire in Aspen last weekend. Ice dams tend to form in the late winter when snow on rooftops melts and refreezes near the edge of the roof, creating large, heavy chunks of ice.

Those ice dams can fall and cause damage to whatever is below. In rare cases, that can lead to injuries, but is more likely to damage part of a building.

Parker Lathrop, deputy chief of Aspen Fire Protection District, says those a falling chunk can hit a gas meter, causing a leak and leading to a fire. The department believes this may have been the cause of Sunday’s blaze.

“Our recommendation is to keep those roofs clear so that ice never builds up,” Lathrop said. “So if there’s no ice up there, there’s nothing to fall down and damage the meter.”

The department sees a few similar incidents each year and also recommends that residents keep access to gas meters and fire hydrants clear of snow.