At least three people escaped unharmed when a portion of Elliot Lake’s Lester B. Pearson civic centre roof collapsed at around 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Murray Finn who was in the theatre auditorium where the roof collapsed onto the seating area said all he heard was a “crack” and a portion of the roof came down.
“It’s just the auditorium that came down,” a shaken Finn told ElliotLakeToday just after it happened. “The main roof in the centre of the auditorium.”
The three were in the auditorium preparing for a dress rehearsal of the cast of the play Shorthanded that was to hit the stage this Friday and Saturday evening. Finn said they had already sold 200 tickets for the Friday showing. He said it was fortunate the collapse happened this evening instead of opening night.
“We heard a couple of cracks and then we heard a big crack and we just ran,” Finn said.
With Finn were cast members Rick and Maggie (no last names were given).
“I went in to help get Maggie out and there were beams down right by her feet. Fortunately, she didn’t get hit,” Finn said. “It scared the hell out of us.”
Shorthanded is a play being staged by ELATE (Elliot Lake Amateur Theatre Ensemble) and the dress rehearsal was set to start at 7 p.m.
Elliot Lake CAO Dan Gagnon, in a new release, reported no injuries in the collapse.
OPP, Hydro, Union Gas, Elliot Lake Fire Department, and public works crews were on site minutes after the collapse. Gas and hydro were shut off within a couple of hours.
The city is asking the public to “refrain from accessing the site.”
“The building, housing a 340-seat community theatre, mining museum, (art gallery) and various administrative offices will remain closed for the foreseeable future until the city’s chief building official and engineers can assess the damage,” Gagnon said.
Finn said ELATE is looking to reschedule the showtimes to another location and will honor all tickets sold.
By coincidence, Finn was also in the former Algo Centre Mall on the day it collapsed in 2012, killing two people.
According to him he was in a location in the mall with about 60 other people when the mall garage roof collapsed on the other side of the wall where the people were sitting.
He considers himself blessed to have survived both.