PICKERINGTON, Ohio (WCMH) – Part of an event center’s floor sustained structural damage during a high school prom in Ohio on Saturday night.
The Violet Township Fire Department confirmed that firefighters were called to The Wigwam at about 10 p.m.
According to the fire department, during the Pickerington North High School prom, the north end of the lodge’s dance floor saw structural degradation and floorboards give way. The fire department did not say what caused the damage.
By the time firefighters arrived, prom attendees had been moved to a tent outside the building.
“We continued our thing,” said Pickerington North senior Raydn Allbaugh. “We kept dancing. We had, like, a dance circle out there, and it was pretty fun, but everyone kind of left not too much longer after that.”
Violet Township Fire Department Assistant Chief Jim Paxton said the dance floor looked like a 25-foot wide circle that dips in the middle.
“It kind of looks like a bowl,” he said. “A little bit of a bowl, a shallow bowl where the dance floor was. Where the subfloor is still intact, the carpet is still holding, but the substructure underneath is what’s given way, so it just kind of looks like a big divet in the floor where the dance floor was.”
Paxton added that the DJ and staff possibly heard something break and noticed the dip in the floor, which is when everyone was evacuated.
The Wigwam confirmed the incident with a post on its Facebook page.
“Out of an abundance of caution, an unforeseen structural concern at the Wigwam this evening required that we move the Pickerington North High School prom outside under the tent,” the post states. “The safety of our guests is always our utmost concern and we appreciate the cooperation of every student and guest here tonight.”
Allbaugh said as soon as he saw what was happening, he grabbed his date and backed off the floor, saying he was worried since he’d seen videos of situations like this in which the outcome was much worse.
“All the sudden, like, the floor started to shake underneath everybody,” Allbaugh said. “I grabbed my date and we, like, backed up away from the dance floor because I was scared the floor was about to fall through.”
No injuries were reported, the fire department said.
“As structurally, as bad as this looks and sounds, nobody got hurt, so that’s the most important thing,” Paxton said.
Fire crews went back to the building Sunday morning with a structural engineer to assess the damage.
“That’s definitely not how I thought the night was going to go,” Allbauch said.
According to its Facebook page, the Wigwam features a banquet hall that can accommodate approximately 500 people and a 303-seat theater.
Paxton said support beams have been put in place, and an engineer said events can continue at The Wigwam, but just not in the area where the floor is caved in.
Requests for comment from the school district have not been returned.