February 27, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Roof collapse injures 2 at Michigan outlet mall

West Branch — A massive pile of snow caused the roof inside a popular mid-Michigan outlet mall to collapse Thursday, resulting in minor injuries to two shoppers.

All the stores in the Tanger Outlets in Ogemaw County’s West Branch were closed after the roof fell into the Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store, Ogemaw County Sheriff Howie Hanft said. Customers were evacuated before the collapse.

“The wind just blew the snow to the east end of the roof, where there’s a sign at the top, and it just piled up,” Hanft said. “I’m sure it got too heavy. People inside started getting hit by ceiling tiles, and they got everyone out, luckily.”

“Then, at about 3:30 — kaboosh!”

Two customers inside the Polo store suffered minor injuries from the ceiling tiles, Hanft said.

“It was just a couple scratches; nothing that required hospitalization,” he said. “We’re lucky the roof came down in little pieces instead of all at once. If those beams had come down, it would’ve been bad.”

It was not known when the mall would reopen. The mall has been shut down to allow engineers to assess the damage and fix it.

The West Branch mall is one of 44 operated in 26 states and Canada by Greensboro, N.C.-based Tanger Outlets. It is the company’s only outlet mall in Michigan, said spokesman Quentin Pell.

The company is monitoring the investigation into the collapse, he said.

“Our thoughts go out to those impacted by the situation,” Pell told the Associated Press. “We’re committed to ensuring the West Branch center is safe before reopening. We won’t jeopardize them with trying to reopen too quickly.”

The Associated Press contributed
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