Heavy rains cause ceiling to collapse at Charlotte mall

The Associated Press

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CHARLOTTE — A Charlotte mall was evacuated Friday when a thunderstorm that produced heavy rain caused the ceiling to collapse, officials said.

The ceiling at SouthPark collapsed around 5 p.m., said Charlotte Fire Department Capt. Rob Brisley. He said by the time firefighters were dispatched to the mall, an evacuation was already under way.

Brisley said firefighters also pulled the alarm systems in the mall to help with the evacuation, which he described as orderly.

No injuries were reported.

Brisley said firefighters were also focusing on being sure the building was safe and that the water damage could be addressed by mall workers.

Mall personnel couldn’t be reached for additional comment Friday afternoon.

Also, Brisley said, firefighters rescued a motorist in south Charlotte who was trapped by rising waters from the rain.

It’s estimated that up to 3 inches of rain fell on south Charlotte in approximately 45 minutes, said Rodney Hinson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C.

Hinson said a cluster of thunderstorms spawned by an upper-level disturbance moved northeast across the city beginning around 4:15 p.m. He said the same storm weakened by the time it reached Cabarrus County.

Hinson said additional rain was likely to pass over Charlotte Friday night.