On the first building, from what I have seen, this type of construction
was common in the early part of the century. (i.e. 2x4 rafters at 2'-0"
oc w/ a 2x4 ridge with the rafters spanning 20 to 25 feet) Obviously,
the 2x4 rafters or 2x4 ridge do not work without additional elements.
Typically a tie between the rafters on each side of the ridge was
provided. This tie is typically something like a 1x3 located at about
2/3 of the roof height. This prevents the rafters from spreading out (in
addition to the ceiling joists, if any) and pushing the walls out. My
house, from 1911, has the roof construction noted above. The ridge beam
only provides a mechanism to transfer load from one rafter to another.
It doesn't actually span the length of the house. You didn't mention
whether the collapsed building had this tie or maybe it was removed?
Just out of curiosity, do you remember seeing any sort of tie?
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