Monday morning, the Mammoth Mall parking garage adjacent to Good Life Cafe collapsed, crushing the vehicles parked underneath.
No people were injured.
Mammoth Lakes Fire Department Division Chief Jeff Sutch responded to the scene. He “isolated and denied entry” – fireman code for taping the area off and ensuring nobody entered.
Sutch estimated that at least 5 vehicles suffered damage.
His supposition is that the roof collapsed under the weight of too much heavy snow.
Scottie Marzonie, owner of Mammoth Taxi, parks his fleet underneath the garage.
“We got a text from Kathy Copeland at 7 something in the morning,” said Marzonie. He went over there. There were 5 or 6 firemen in jackets all looking at the wreckage.
Then, they all looked at him. “As if I was gonna be completely upset,” said Marzonie. But his cars still looked driveable. Why fret?
Splintered support beams of metal and wood splintered. Crushed vehicles. “That was a lot of snow,” said Marzonie.
He mentioned that he was informed of a snow removal effort for the roof about a month ago. “But I didn’t really notice any difference… with that much of a load … metal supports snapped like toothpicks.”
When the insurance company phoned him to talk about damages, Marzonie could sense that the mall owners didn’t want to have to cover anything.
“Commercial vehicle coverage isn’t the same as personal cars,” said Marzonie. Meaning, he’s less covered. At the time I spoke to Marzonie, his insurance company was not going to cover the damages.
He hopes that the mall owners had the necessary insurance coverage and that they do the right thing. Like helping to assist in covering the damages if their insurance company does not.
He’s been paying rent in those spots since 2014.
The owner of the mall could not be reached for comment.
Former Town Mayor Rick Wood narrowly escaped injury, per his wife Cheryl. “Rick pulls into that spot at 8 a.m. everyday,” wrote Cheryl. “It had not been plowed in that garage until the night before so it was finally clear for him to park in his spot. Our neighbor Brad Daigle caught Rick before he left and they talked for about 15 minutes. Rick then stopped at Davis’s for a daily check in and I called him there at 8:04 and told him about the collapse. Rick pulled into the Mall parking lot just as the fire crew came in. It was too close for comfort. He said maybe that would be the day to buy a lottery ticket. Even if it missed him, it would have crushed the car if he and Brad had not been talking in our driveway.”
During a historic winter, removing the snow loads off roofs is crucial. That same Monday, part of the Sierra Center Mall parking garage collapsed. On March 15th, fire crews and first responders bolstered the outdoor side of Aloha Suds Laundromat near the Mammoth Lakes Looney Bean to prevent collapse.
Both Mono County and the Town of Mammoth Lakes have issued Winter Storm Damage Surveys to estimate total damages and see if the respective areas qualify for disaster relief.
The Town of Mammoth Lakes also created a Winter Critical Snow Removal Needs form that residents can fill out to receive help in removing their snow. You can find the form at townofmammothlakes.ca.gov/FormCenter.