Bristol's Bell Tower roof caves in during storm

No one is injured in the vacant section of the building; plaza remains closed


The storm that lashed Bristol Tuesday wasn’t exactly the serious blizzard it was originally forecast to be once temperatures warmed and the snow turned to rain. But the storm didn’t leave without inflicting some damage.

A portion of the roof of Bellower Plaza on Metacom Avenue caved in during the storm Tuesday evening, collapsing under the weight of ice, snow and rain. The cave-in, over a former karate studio, occurred in a vacant part of the plaza, and no injuries were reported, according to Bristol Fire Battalion Chief Jim Vieira.

The entire plaza was roped off Wednesday morning, from Rite Aid on the north end to just before the Citizen’s Bank on the south end. The ordinarily busy parking lot was virtually empty as businesses were closed.

Bristol Building Inspector Richard Pimenta spent Wednesday morning with building engineers assessing the damage to determine when the plaza can safely open. Police Capt. Brian Burke said there was no timetable for the reopening that he was aware of as of late Wednesday morning.

It’s not the first time the plaza has been evacuated after a structural failure. Building officials shut down the plaza in March 2015 after a rood collapse, also blamed on the weight of melting ice and snow.

Check with for updates as they become available.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.