Roof collapse at Miller Hill Mall, building remains closed

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The Duluth Fire Department responded to a roof collapse at the Miller Hill Mall on Tuesday morning. The call came in around 9am.

An employee from Barnes and Noble, Scott Skar, said they heard a loud noise from the roof. “They’ve been clearing snow off, but this seemed louder than normal. Then I heard a coworker yell my name, and said the roof over the hallway in the mall had collapsed.”

Photo courtesy Scott Skar

Skar said he ran out, and was shocked at what he saw. “I called 911, and yelled out to see if anyone was there. Then we got everyone out of the store.”

He also smelled gas.

Kayla Tharaldson was working in Old Navy. “We were just getting the store ready, when I heard a loud noise. I thought it was a gunshot. So I went to the back of the store. So did another employee. My manager eventually went to the front, and saw the collapse.”

She told us that water started flooding the store, so they moved some of the merchandise quickly before evacuating.

The city said the gas and water had been shut off.

Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj told us that a crew had been clearing snow off the roof that morning, but got off when they hard some popping noises.

“I think it’s fortunate this happened when it wasn’t during their normal business hours. Of course there were people still here. But a minimal amount,” he said.

He is urging people to stay away, and keep your drones away as well.

Photo courtesy AJ Miller
Photo courtesy AJ Miller

Authorities say no injuries have yet been reported, although the mall has been evacuated.

Members of Task Force 2, one of two Urban Search and Rescue teams in the state, were on scene. The are trained for situations like a structural collapse. They include members of Duluth Fire, Virginia Fire, and the 148th Fighter Wing.

Krizaj said they would be working with structural engineers to assess the building. But any other details would be released by Simon Properties, the owner of the mall.

By Tuesday evening, the first responders were gone. But crews from Vic’s Crane and Heavy Haul were onsite, bringing in some materials.

As of Tuesday evening, we have not seen a statement from Simon Properties.

Essentia Health says their facility in the mall was also evacuated, and appointments were been canceled. In a statement, Essentia says, “this did not directly impact any Essentia Health facilities at the mall, but out of an abundance of caution, our locations at 1600 Miller Trunk Highway were evacuated and closed for the day. As of now, as we continue focusing on the safety of our patients and staff, we will remain closed on Wednesday, March 15 all day. We are working directly with our patients to ensure their appointments are either rescheduled or moved to other facilities so they can continue receiving high-quality care.