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Adults, Children Escape Injury During Major Roof Collapse At Canton Ice Rink

CANTON (CBS) – Adults and children escaped injury during a major roof collapse at a Canton skating rink.

Canton police said the rear third of the Metropolis Skating Rink on Route 138 near Washington Street collapsed around 7 a.m. on Saturday.

"There were parents, children and workers inside at the time and they saw the roof come down but thankfully everyone escaped without injury," police said.

A photograph taken inside the rink by Police Chief Ken Berkowitz shows significant damage to the building. Debris and snow can be seen on a portion of the ice surface.

Canton Rink Collapse
A large portion of the roof at a Canton skating rink collapsed. (Image Credit: Ken Berkowitz)

Fire Chief Charles Doody told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kim Tunnicliffe that the situation could have been much worse.

"We're so blessed," said Doody. "At 9 o'clock there were 200 skaters that were scheduled to be here, little 5- and 6-year-olds at their last learn to skate lesson of the season, along with their parents. Had this occurred two hours later it would have been a very, very different scene."

When the roof collapsed, police said the resulting air pressure also blew out the front portion of the building.

State inspectors and the Canton Building Commissioner remained on scene as of about 9 a.m.

Berkowitz said one youth hockey team was practicing the time of the collapse.

The roof collapsed at Ponkapoag this morning. There were Norwood players on the ice at the time. All Norwood players and Canton employees ARE SAFE. There will be no games, practices, or Learn to Skate today.

Posted by Norwood Nuggets Youth Hockey on Saturday, February 28, 2015

According to a spokesman for the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the rink is one of 42 owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Several DCR rinks have been forced to close in recent weeks due to fear of roof collapse.

The spokesman added that DCR officials had been in touch with Metropolis Skating Rink employees concerning the snow on the building's roof.

Canton Rink Collapse
Debris and snow resulting from a roof collapse. (WBZ-TV)

A parent who was at the rink told Tunnicliffe that he heard three loud bangs and then saw the roof cave in.

Players from the Norwood Nuggets were not on the ice at the time the roof collapsed. Instead, they were inside the locker room preparing for practice.

Nuggets coach Chris Sharkey says his only concern was making sure his players escaped the rink safely after the rear part of the roof caved in and collapsed onto the ice, making a thunderous sound.

"It was like an explosion, snap. Basically (we) knew something was wrong so they knew to get out of the building," he said. "There were parents and coaches from other teams and our team just making sure every kid got out of that building."

The force of the roof collapse knocked Sharkey and another coach to the ground.

"It blew myself and Mike, who were running towards the kids, down. We got back and kept running," Sharkey said.

More than 20 kids and adults were inside the facility before the collapse.

Children at the rink recalled the harrowing moments of the morning.

"I was getting my skates on and I heard a big boom," said hockey player Dan DiBlasi. "Then, I heard my assistant coach's dad. He screamed 'Everybody get off the ice!'

"I just started running and not paying attention to anything that happened."

"There was a lot of ice shattered and all I heard was wind hit my back," said hockey player Kayden Sager.

After the roof came crashing down, an arena employee called 911 and everyone inside was able to run to safety.

The building has been deemed a total loss and will likely have to be demolished.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kim Tunnicliffe reports:

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