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Snow causes roof cave-in at Crossroads Mall

Collapse happens in vacant store, breaking sprinkler line

-Submitted photo
A photograph taken earlier in the day shows the snow and roof debris after a section of it collapsed at the Crossroads Mall Saturday morning.

No one was hurt when a portion of the snow-covered roof at Crossroads Mall caved in Saturday morning, filling a vacant former storefront with debris and covering the floor of one wing of the building with water.

“We had a roof section collapse under the weight of the snow from the recent storms,” said Melissa Verschoor, the general manager of the mall. “When the roof came down it took out a portion of the sprinkler system and that’s where the water came from.”

Police and firefighters were dispatched to the mall at 9:57 a.m. for a report that a vehicle had crashed into the building, causing a partial collapse and a natural gas leak. First arriving police officers drove around the perimeter of the sprawling building twice and found no evidence that any vehicle had struck it and caused a collapse and gas leak. It’s unclear why anyone reported that scenario to 911 dispatchers.

The mall was closed Saturday afternoon. Crews from MidAmerican Energy Co., Riley-Armstrong Plumbing and Heating and ServPro of Fort Dodge were there, cleaning and making repairs. Verschoor said she hoped the mall would be able to reopen today.

The collapse occurred in the southwest corner of the mall between the current Sears Hometown Store and the larger former Sears store to the south of it.

Messenger photo by Bill Shea
A pair of Fort Dodge firefighters look into a vacant store at Crossroads Mall Saturday morning after a part of the roof above it collpased under the weight of heavy snow. Water from a broken pipe covers the floor.

Verschoor said the cave-in happened in an area of what had been the Walgreens store before it moved to Fifth Avenue South and 25th Street. After Walgreens moved, its space was divided into five sections and the collapse occurred in one of them.

Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter said about one-third of the roof over that section fell in. He said accumulated heavy snow caused the collapse.

He said water was flowing out of the broken sprinkler pipes at the rate of several hundred gallons per minute before firefighters were able to stop it.

Electricity to that end of the building was shut off. The sprinkler system there was also shut down.

Emergency personnel were at the mall until about 11:15 a.m.

By Saturday afternoon, paper signs stating “We are closed today due to water issues” were posted on the mall’s doors.

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