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Heavy snow causes Upper Midwest roofs to collapse

The heavy, wet snow that fell over the weekend in parts of the Upper Midwest caused roof collapses at a church, hotel, gas station and some houses, but there were no serious injuries reported.

In Eau Claire, a man pumping gas at a service station was injured on Sunday when the canopy over the pumps collapsed.

“He said he heard noises above him and looked ahead and people were running away,” said Joe Kelly, battalion chief for Eau Claire Fire & Rescue. “He tucked back inside (the car.)”

The man was able to free himself from the car after the collapse and was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, Kelly said. Police looked at surveillance camera footage to learn if anyone was trapped in the wreckage.

Meanwhile in White Lake, the roof of the local fire station collapsed, trapping emergency-response vehicles early Sunday.

In Minnesota, part of the roof over the kitchen of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Moorhead gave way around noon on Sunday. The two people inside got out safely.

On the church’s Facebook page, Bonnie Lee, church director of music and worship, wrote, “A Sunday morning miracle! Praise God! This morning the roof over the parish center collapsed on our beautiful church. As terrible as it was, no one was hurt.”

In Winona, the ceiling above a pool at a Holiday Inn Express collapsed Sunday morning. No one was hurt. In Plainview, the roof of a building housing classic cars collapsed on Saturday.

Also on Sunday, more than a dozen people working at RJ Corman, a railroad-service company in West Fargo, North Dakota, escaped injury when the roof gave way. Firefighters checked for gas leaks afterward, since the biggest cause for concern following a roof collapse is usually the possibility of an explosion, according to West Fargo Fire Chief Dan Fuller.

Also in West Fargo, a partial roof collapse at a trailer manufacturer touched off a fire when a gas line was sheared. Officials say the collapse caused a great deal damage to the offices at Trail King Industries. No one was in the building at the time.

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