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Utah architects and developers are being encouraged by a California structural engineer to continue using metal roofs in their structures because they withstand earthquakes better than wooden roofs.

"Most nightmares connected with earthquakes occur with wooden-roof buildings," said Ron Hamburger, an associate with E.Q.E. Engineering, a Los Angeles and San Francisco company that has extensively studied the effects recent earthquakes have had on structures.Speaking to the Utah Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks in Little America, Hamburger talked mainly about tilt-up buildings with wooden roofs as opposed to metal roofs since wood roofs are common in California.

A tilt-up building has the concrete panels poured on a floor and then hoisted into place as opposed to building cinder block walls. The panels are held together by the roof.

Hamburger said the roof must act as a diaphragm that contracts so when an earthquake causes the ground to shake and the walls to move, the walls will move only so far and still support the roof. He showed several slides of buildings damaged in recent California earthquakes, and they all had wooden roofs.