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Heavy snow causes roof collapse at horse-riding arena near Superior

Jim Heifner stands inside the riding arena south of Superior where the roof collapsed on Thursday. (Steve Kuchera / / 2
The roof covering the center part of the Heifners' riding arena collapsed under this winter's load of snow. (Steve Kuchera / / 2

Add Credence Farm to the list of Northland businesses that have suffered damage from heavy snow that continues to pile up.

An arena at the horse stable, about eight miles south of Superior, suffered a complete roof collapse Thursday, according to owners Jacquie and Jim Heifner. The collapse happened at nighttime, and no people or animals were injured.

"It's quite devastating to us," Jacquie Heifner said. "This is what we do for a living."

Winter is the busy season for the arena, she said. It's used for leisure riding, lessons and training year-round, but is most needed now when the outdoors isn't an option. The collapse has put the stable's trainer out of work for now, and it's unclear when riding could resume.

The Heifners said they want to rebuild. Some of the structure may be salvageable, so they may not have to completely tear it down.

"I don't think we know the full gravity of it yet," she said. "We've had four or five different companies out here looking at it, and we're waiting for a few more. We have to get cleaned up first and see what they say."

Heavy snow has taken its toll on business throughout the region, which has received above-average snowfall this winter. The National Weather Service in Duluth recently reported 3 feet of snow on the ground -- not counting much-taller snowdrifts.

A Kmart store in Eau Claire, Wis., closed after a portion of its roof collapsed under heavy snow on Thursday. And the roof on the Nauti Pine bar near Hayward collapsed on Friday morning.

Then, a handful of stores at the Miller Hill Mall were forced to close Sunday while crews assessed the structural integrity of a portion of the mall's roof that was compromised by heavy snow.

While snow is nothing new for the Northland, this winter's windy conditions might be playing a part in structural problems. Heifner said she was told by engineers that the arena collapse was likely due to a large snowdrift.

"The snow was so wind-driven that it piled up on one side and apparently overloaded it," she said.