Inflated roof at Vancouver sports stadium collapses

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) – The inflated roof at a 60,000-seat stadium where the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics will be held collapsed Friday under the weight of heavy, wet sleet.

There was no event going on in the stadium and fire officials said no injuries were reported.

A section of roof came loose at a concrete rim on the building and began flapping in the wind, witnesses said. The fabric dome then came down into the bowl of the stadium.

B.C. Place, which is home to the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League, was evacuated and surrounding roads have been closed. The stadium’s roof has the same design as the Metrodome.

Trevor Holness was taking up turf laid for a soccer camp earlier this week and had just returned from lunch when he noticed speakers had come down from the ceiling.

The 30-year-old said he heard a loud sound and that the dome’s fabric roof looked like a rug being shaken out. He then watched as a tear ripped up the side of the roof.

“It was very scary,” Holness said. “The sound was the scariest about it. It sent shivers down your spine.”

Holness said about 30 people would normally have been working at the stadium, but that there was a skeleton crew Friday.

B.C. Place is slated to be the site of the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Games. It will mark the first time ever that the Olympic ceremonies are held indoors.

On May 1 during estimates at the B.C. legislature, then sports minister Olga Illich said that “apparently, the roof is expected to last another 15 to 20 years if it’s maintained properly in its current state.”

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