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Duluth's Miller Hill Mall remains closed following roof collapse

Roof collapses at mall in Duluth
Roof collapses at mall in Duluth 01:52

DULUTH, Minn. – Investigators say all the snow up north is likely the cause of a roof collapse at a popular mall in Duluth. 

A big hole is left in the Miller Hill Mall after the roof caved in Tuesday morning. Fortunately, no one was injured, but it was a close call. 

Morgan Anderson was getting the Jimmy John's ready to open inside the mall Tuesday when an avalanche of snow was suddenly inside.

"It's just shocking, I would never expect something like this to happen," said Anderson. "A cop came and knocked on our door to tell me pretty much that the roof caved in and that they were evacuating everyone and they didn't want anyone coming in."

So far this winter, Duluth has had 116 inches of snow, which makes it the ninth snowiest winter on record for this area.

"We're assuming, we're making some guesses that it was at least partially due to snow load," said Duluth Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj.

Krizaj says there were actually crews on the roof of the mall early Monday morning trying to clear off some of the heavy snowpack, when they heard a sound that told them it wasn't safe to be up there anymore.

Kayla Tharaldson

"They heard some popping sounds so they immediately got off the roof and they were kind of evaluating the building when it collapsed," said Krizaj.

After the collapse, first responders smelled a strong gas odor and found a gas leak, which they've since cut off. They searched the entire mall and didn't find anyone stuck or injured.

Everyone involved is feeling thankful that this happened before most stores and restaurants opened.

"Even if it happened on a different day, like Saturdays are pretty crazy, but yeah, I mean it could have been so much worse, if it was open at all, honestly," said Anderson.

The Miller Hill Mall will remain closed again Wednesday. Engineers are checking to make sure the rest of the building is structurally sound and safe to reopen.

City officials say the following things must happen before the mall is deemed safe to reopen by Duluth's construction services and inspections department:

* Temporary structural shoring, removal of debris, snow and temporary enclosure of exposed areas.
* Structural analysis of roof system with report of corrective measures.
* Restoration of life safety systems, including fire alarms, sprinkler protection, emergency lighting, and access to safe means of egress.

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