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Heavy snow load takes toll on roofs around the region

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The weight of the most recent winter snowstorm is straining roofs for businesses and homes.

The Duluth News Tribune reported that a handful of stores at the city's Miller Hill Mall closed on Sunday while crews reviewed the structural integrity of the roof. Part of a common corridor in the mall was blocked off with yellow tape and closed to foot traffic. WDIO reported five shops will remain shuttered indefinitely.

Mall staff have monitored the structure since a storm dropped more than a foot of snow last week, creating snowdrifts as high as 15 to 20 feet on the roof. Mall management hired a crane to lift snow onto a massive tarp and send it down to the ground below. The 41-year-old mall had one prior significant roof problem related to an unusually heavy snow load in 1983. That incident involved a section of roof that has since been reinforced.

The heavy snowfall also caused problems in Ramsey, where WCCO reported that on Friday, the roof at Pro Power Sports & Marine first began to sag, and then employees heard rivets pop. The roof toppled on snowmobiles, motorcycles and other equipment valued at $100,000. A Kmart in Eau Claire, Wisconsin closed after a portion of its roof collapsed Thursday evening, the Leader-Telegram reported. And the roof of the Nauti Pine bar near Hayward collapsed Friday morning, the business reported on its Facebook page. The bar is closed for the season. There were no injuries in any of the incidents.

Meanwhile, the St. Cloud Times reported that businesses that handle residential snow removal have been swamped with calls from homeowners eager to have their roofs cleared to prevent weight issues and ice dams.

Many homeowners try to use snow rakes to remove snow, but climbing on the roof can pose a safety risk. Last week, Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel urged caution. “Each year, we see injuries or worse as a result of people falling off or through roofs while attempting to remove snow,” Wetzel said in a news release.

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