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UPDATE: Roof Collapses at Thumper Pond Water Park

Damage can be seen at the Thumper Pond Lodge Wednesday, April 15 in Ottertail after the roof over the waterpark collapsed around midnight. (Photo by Dave Wallis)2 / 2

OTTERTAIL, Minn. - The collapse late Tuesday night of the roof over Thumper Pond Lodge's waterpark here could have ended worse, a neighbor said. Much, much worse.

Kevin Engebretson, who lives on Red Pine Trail, said Wednesday that it was just before midnight when "I heard something. Just a thunk. Then I heard sirens."

In the morning, he walked through a stand of pines to the resort.

"Lo and behold, there's no roof on that building," Engebretson said. "Gone. Imploded."

A 120-foot section of the roof over the indoor water park between the lobby and the north wall where the slides corkscrew before re-entering the building had collapsed.

Insulation lay in white drifts on the ground Wednesday around the building at 300 Thumper Pond Road,

like the leavings of a spring snowstorm, Engebretson said.

Broken and twisted rafters and roofing were clearly visible through a large eastside window. Most of the westside wall of the water park is bowed out perhaps as much as 4 to 6 feet from the weight of the collapsed material.

Seen from an airplane passing over the resort, the water park area looks like a giant stepped on the roof and smashed it. Where the wall is bowed is where the gas lines enter the building, Engebretson said.

"It's lucky no one was in there," he said. "That's usually filled with a lot of kids and families."

No one was injured in the collapse, according to the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office.

Throughout the day and into the early nighttime hours, the water park is usually packed with people, Engebretson said. Golfers drop off their youngsters while they play a round on the golf course, and local families and vacationers flood the resort on cold days so kids can enjoy some water fun, he said.

About 21 rooms at the resort had been rented when the roof collapsed, said Lt. Barry Fitzgibbons of the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office. He said the hotel self-evacuated.

Hotel guests were sent to other hotels in the area, including the Super 8 and the Crossings Inn and Suites in Perham. Nearly all of those guests had either checked out or were not at the hotels by early Wednesday.

No one was allowed into the lodge complex Wednesday. Only contractors and cleanup personnel were allowed on site, a lodge employee said.

Several voice mail messages were left on the cellphone number of Thumper Pond General Manager Brad Stevens. No replies were received Wednesday.

No cause of the roof collapse had been determined as of Wednesday afternoon. Otter Tail Sheriff's Sgt. Reed Reinhold said it didn't appear that criminal activity was involved.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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