MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A section of a suburban Milwaukee shopping mall parking garage collapsed Thursday. Two cars were damaged, but no injuries were reported, authorities said.
News outlets tweeted and broadcast footage showing a section of the top two floors of the three-story garage at Bayshore Mall in Glendale laying on the first floor. A mound of snow covered the rubble.
North Shore Fire/Rescue Chief Robert Whitaker told reporters during a question-and-answer session at the scene that he was “fairly confident” no one was hurt after authorities spoke with the owners of the two damaged cars. The chief said firefighters would continue to search the snow mound to be sure no one is trapped.
Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that fire and rescue crews viewed mall surveillance video and it showed no one in the area for 15 to 20 minutes before the collapse. About two dozen empty cars remain stuck on the portion of the second and third floors with no way for the owners to maneuver around the gaping hole the collapse left, the mayor said.
“No loss of life, (but) unfortunately it’s just a big old mess,” Kennedy said.
Whitaker told reporters at the scene that it appears snow had been piled on the third floor and the extra weight may have played a role in the collapse. The mall and garage was built in 2005 and 2006, Kennedy said.
The Milwaukee area has received about 23. 7 inches of snow since December, including 1.5 inches of wet sleet on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.
“I don’t know why (the garage collapsed), but it appears snow would have some likely impact,” the chief said. “Piling snow on a property, especially if its elevated, probably not a good idea.”
Darius Fox, an employee at Rocky Rococo pizza in an adjacent building, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper that the collapse sounded “like a bomb.”
“It shook the whole building,” Fox said. “It’s just a shock because nothing usually happens out here like that.”
A slab of concrete fell from a parking garage in Milwaukee in June 2010, killing 15-year-old Jared Kellner and injuring two other people. A Milwaukee County jury ruled four years later that the insurance company for the firm that installed the panel owed $39 million in connection with the incident.
This story has been updated to correct the day in the first paragraph to Thursday, instead of Friday.