Workers sounded alarms before roof collapsed at Oregon mill owned by Idaho firm

. Last Nov. 13, Tod Halsey noticed something strange about one part of the roof under the cut shop at the plant owned by Idaho-based Woodgrain Millwork. It was sagging between two beams.

“It was literally bowing,” said Halsey, a forklift driver who worked at the mill for 28 years. “It looked like it was smiling.”

“I told supervisors,” he said. “They came out and looked at it and said it would be all right.”

The sagging roof troubled Halsey, but he said even he would not have guessed what would come.

That night, heavy snow blanketed the central Oregon town of Prineville. By 6 a.m. Nov. 14, many mill workers couldn’t get out of their driveways in time for work. Later, many would say how lucky they were to be housebound by snow.

Halsey was one who made it in to work. At the start of his shift, he noticed the same section of the roof drooping even more. He said he again alerted a boss.

As Halsey and a supervisor were returning for a second look at the roof, he said, he heard a loud pop over an area where lumber was cut and processed, called the “cut shop.”

A major section of Woodgrain Mill’s roof started to collapse.

Next he heard a long, metal groan. He looked up and watched as the roof began to tear in two above him.

Read the complete story on the Oregon Public Broadcasting website.