MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Dozens of guests at a Twin Cities hotel got an unexpected wake-up call when a piece of the building fell off.
Four large concrete panels are missing from the 14th through 16th floors of the La Quinta Inn in Bloomington.
Hotel staff evacuated the building around 2 a.m. Monday out of concerns for the structural integrity of the hotel.
Guests staying at the La Quinta Inn have different descriptions of the noise that woke the hotel.
"It sounded like a bomb went off," Mark McMillan said.
"At first, I thought it was an asteroid that hit," Paul Jimenez said.
"I thought maybe it was explosion of some kind," Carrie Syrstad said.
The hotel guests soon learned the sound they heard was the crash of four large panels of concrete siding falling 14 stories. It will take time before anyone knows exactly what caused the siding to fall off, but Bloomington Fire Chief, Ulie Seal, offered his insight.
"My guess is there's a leak there, or water got in behind it, that caused the failure," Seal said.
The pieces of siding knocked out heat, air and a sprinkler system when it fell. The hotel was immediately evacuated and guests spent the night at a hotel across the street.
Later Monday morning, many returned to pack up belongings left behind in the rush to get out.
McMillan was among those hoping to get back into the hotel. A long-term customer, he often did his laundry on the 14th floor.
Back in December, he said he noticed a growing crack in the wall and alerted management.
"I'm not a structural engineer, but when you have a crack in a structure that goes from here to here, to here to here, over months, and you don't do anything about it, you're asking for trouble," McMillan said.
The Bloomington building inspector was on-sight Monday morning. He gave the all clear for the hotel's structural integrity. However, repairs to the building, both inside and out, could take weeks.
WCCO put in several calls to the La Quinta corporate offices and have not heard back.
The city building inspector said they weren't alerted of any issues with the exterior of the building.
During yearly inspections, engineers are checking structural integrity and code violations. Issues with siding aren't looked into unless there are specific complaints to the city.
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