Updated: 04/06/2014 10:40 PM
Created: 04/06/2014 2:02 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
Duluth fire and police units responded to the ICO gas station on Sixth Avenue East and Sixth Street in Duluth on Sunday. Authorities said one customer received minor injuries when a support beam crushed his SUV.
James Hayden said he was at a payphone outside the store when he heard a terrifying sound.
“I just got ready to make a call and all of a sudden I heard a great big explosion basically,” Hayden said.
He said the canopy fell just next to his truck pushing it and knocking off the bumper. He said a support beam crushed an SUV with the driver still inside.
“So he was still in the vehicle the way that's sitting right now, and I ran to the other side and he got out. I asked him I said, 'Are you okay?' and he doesn't have a scratch and thank God,” Hayden said.
One other car was slightly damaged , bringing the total to three damaged vehicles, but the owner was able to drive the car away with some dents and scratches.
Fire crews responded to the scene, but the cause of the collapse remains a mystery according to Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Bushey.
“Well, I think the pictures speak for themselves. As to exactly why it happened, we have no idea so our role here was just to make sure the gas pumps were secure, that nobody was hurt and then try to isolate the area,” Bushey said.
Still, crowds gathered to see the astonishing sight and take photos. There are two competing gas stations just blocks away making the scene a grave one for neighbors who are faithful customers.
“I honestly believe this is going to be the nail in the coffin. A lot of people bypass this and go straight on down to the new Super America,” Joel Heller said.
The owners were not available for comment, but Heller fears this could close the store.
“We would lose the heart, we would lose the heart of like a community. This block alone half the people come here like my dad for coffee just to socialize,” Heller said.
The Duluth Fire Department and city building officials will continue to investigate why the canopy fell over.
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