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Insurance company to investigate deck collapse

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KALISPELL, Mont. - An insurance company will investigate the sudden tragedy that left 32 people injured over the weekend when a deck collapsed at Glacier Camp on Flathead Lake's west shore.

Local inspectors we spoke with are questioning what caused the deck to fail.

Home inspector Dick Graf has been in the business for 25 years. He says, "A couple of critical things to look for -- deck flashing, the fasteners used to hold the deck to the house, and checking beams or floor boards that might be rotten."

Investigators will also check to see if it was a capacity issue.

Witnesses tell us there were 20 to 30 people on the deck.

According to Montana Department of Labor and Industry's David Cook, capacity for a commercial deck is "100 pounds per square foot, or one person for every 5 square feet."

We reached out to Glacier Camp, but we weren't able to confirm how many people were on the deck or how big the deck was.

We do know that the maximum occupancy must be posted.

According to Cook, "The Department of Labor and Industry has 100 percent geographical jurisdiction of the state for building codes, unless a local jurisdiction has a taken building code enforcement on their own."

Lakeside is an unincorporated municipality and has not taken on that jurisdiction. According to inspectors we spoke with, codes are sometimes not enforced outside city limits.

"First of all," Cook said, "it's important to recognize that we do new construction, building and remodel. We don't do existing building."

Each deck permit submitted to the state will have an initial check.

Inspectors say, although it's not required, it's important to have a good deck contractor inspect it every five years.

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