‘A wide open hole’: Parking ramp partially collapses in Wisconsin

A parking garage north of Milwaukee in Wisconsin has partially collapsed with two cars being damaged but no injuries being reported.

North Shore Fire Department Chief Robert Whitaker told the assembled press that “we’re fairly confident there is no one in that space”.

The authorities watched surveillance footage from Bayshore mall in Glendale and spoke to the owners of the cars that had been damaged, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The incident took place just before 1pm on Thursday when emergency services could be spotted moving towards the area.

It remains unclear if heavy snowfall during the previous night was a factor in the collapse, but Chief Whitaker told reporters that he thinks it did play a role.

The snow had been compressed into a single area where the collapse had occurred. The exit to the garage was blocked with Chief Whitaker adding that cars parked in the garage may be stuck in there for over a month.

He said the collapse took place “on the ramp down to get out and literally from the third floor down it is a wide open hole”.

“The third floor is in the first floor right now,” he added.

The mayor of Glendale Bryan Kennedy noted that the parking structure had been constructed in 2005 or 2006 and that the city building inspector had recently been there in connection to the mall being built out.

A garage partially collapsed in Wisconsin (Screenshot / Twitter / Evan Casey)
A garage partially collapsed in Wisconsin (Screenshot / Twitter / Evan Casey)

“So he walked over to see what was going on here,” he said, according to the Journal Sentinel. “So we’re regularly working with the folks at Bayshore.”

Mr Kennedy said he had been unable to receive “a full assessment” from the inspector “other than he came and walked around and looked at the property and he felt confident enough that he could go back over to continue his inspection of the apartments”.

Mr Kennedy said he parked there just the day before.

“I mean we certainly, certainly dodged a bullet on this one,” he added.

A Rocky Rococo pizza staffer who was working in a nearby building, Darius Fox, told the paper that “it sounded like a bomb”.

“It shook the whole building,” he added. He initially thought a car crash had taken place before stepping outside with coworkers and seeing the collapsed structure.

“It’s just a shock because nothing usually happens out here like that,” he said.

Nick Recht noted to the outlet that he almost parked on Thursday morning in the area where the collapse took place, but his car got stuck in the snow and he instead parked on the second floor.

He was aided by his friend Geordin Panagopoulos who helped him push his vehicle out of the snow drift.

Working for a software company in a building in the area, they heard a number of loud sounds when the top floor of the structure caved in.

“It sounded like, boom boom boom boom,” Mr Recht told the paper.

They added that the collapse had happened in the place where work crews gathered the snow. Fortunately, neither of their cars was damaged.

The Journal Sentinel noted that the snow, sleet, and ice that fell on the county on Wednesday was thick.

National Weather Service meteorologist Denny VanCleve said that the snow and sleet on the ground on Thursday may not have looked like a lot, but it accounted for a lot of weight.

He said the county saw a “total liquid equivalent” of between 0.9 and 1.2 inches from the winter storm, noting that one liquid equivalent is usually the same as ten inches of snow or between two and three inches of sleet.

“It can be deceiving,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like much but the piles are going to weigh much more than two inches of snow would.”