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Vacaville firefighters examine the damage caused when a portion of the roof of Quick Way Gas Station at Merchant and Mason streets collapsed under the weight of debris. (Joel Rosenbaum / The Reporter)

Vacaville Fire Department officials are blaming pigeons for the collapse of a gas station awning Monday that nearly struck a woman who had just finished filling her tank.

Vacaville resident Chris Doss had stopped at Quick Way Gas located in the 400 block of Merchant Street when a quarter of the station's metal roofing came thundering down next to her under the weight of several inches of bird droppings.

"It just went 'boom' and then it all came down," said Doss, who had just finished putting gas in her silver 2007 Mazda 3.

She had just gotten back into her car on one side of the island at about 2:21 p.m. and hadn't even had a chance to put the key in the ignition when the entire roofing section on the other side of the island collapsed, giving way to an avalanche of bird droppings.

Doss sat there in shock for a moment, not knowing what to do, she said.

Members of the Vacaville Fire Department responded and taped off the area surrounding the gas station.

Her husband, Thomas Doss, arrived a short time later and, as he consoled his shaken wife, couldn't help expressing his amazement.

"Wow, it's unbelievable," he said. "I'm telling you, someone would have been killed if they had been standing there."

According to Vacaville Fire Battalion Chief Brian Moore, the section of the roof was brought down by the weight of the pigeon droppings that had accumulated over the years.

"The center of the roof is open and the pigeons can just go in and out freely," he noted.

Moore went on to say that there was concern over the structural integrity of the remaining portion of the roof.

"It's definitely compromised," Moore said, adding that by looking in the gaping section of the metal skeleton, there was still a significant amount of bird waste remaining in the roofing, which has evidence of rust in some parts.

"Environmental Health wasn't too concerned about exposure of the product, but they said covering it up was a good idea," Moore said as firefighters, decked out in helmets and respiratory masks, worked to cover the plethora of pigeon plops that covered the ground with a series of large black tarps.

Moore said that the gas station's owner was on his way to Vacaville after he received news of the Hitchcockesque happening and, along with the insurance company and a building inspector, would determine how to proceed.

For Chris Doss though, it was definitely her lucky day.

"I'm glad that I parked on that side," she said. "I should go get a lotto ticket."