Minnesota La Quinta Inn Evacuated After Exterior Panels Fall Through Lobby
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The La Quinta Inn & Suites in Bloomington, Minnesota was evacuated this week after four of the 18-story building's concrete board facade panels came detached and fell through the lobby ceiling.
According to Paul Walsh of the Star Tribune, no one was injured when the exterior panels spanning four floors (14 through 17) came loose around 1:50 a.m. local time on Monday. The only fortunate aspect of the incident was the timing, as a majority of the hotel's guests were asleep in their rooms.
Bloomington Fire Chief Ule Seal told the Star Tribune that the 233-room hotel was evacuated as a precaution. Guests were later accompanied by firefighters back to their rooms to fetch their belongings, but were forced to find other accommodations.
The incident caused water pipes in the hotel to break and also damaged heating and ventilation materials. The damage impacted the hotel's sprinkler system as well, soaking the lobby.
Bloomington building official Duke Johnson told the Star Tribune that the incident "wasn't a structural failure," calling the panels "a kind of skin" that peeled off.
Johnson described the nearly 40-year-old building's safety history as "fine."
KARE 11 News anchor Blake McCoy reported on Monday afternoon that building inspectors were on the scene to evaluate the property just hours after the incident:
Walsh said that La Quinta spokeswoman Teresa Ferguson did not respond to messages, but the Texas-based hotel chain is undoubtedly thankful that no one was injured in what clearly could have been a tragic mishap.
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