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Broken sprinkler line causes estimated $500K damage to middle school

(Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)


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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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SANDY — A sprinkler line break has flooded Eastmont Middle School, doing a possible half-million dollars' worth of damage just three weeks before classes are scheduled to resume.

The break in a sprinkler line that irrigates the school's lawn was discovered early Wednesday morning. Several inches of water flowed into the building's first floor and did extensive damage to the auditorium, where water ran down the large sloped room and pooled at the stage.

"The damage is pretty significant. We had considerable amounts of water all through the lower floor," said Canyons School District spokeswoman Jennifer Toomer-Cook. "We did have damage in the auditorium, to seating and the stage area, that we need to get taken care of."

Canyons Risk Management Coordinator Kevin Ray said he hadn't seen anything like it in the 5-year history of the school district.

"The water was actually coming across the stage and running down the stairs," Ray said.

"When we came in here, all these hallways had anywhere from an inch to 2 inches of water in them — all the way down from one end of the building to the other," he said.

Electricity to the building has been cut and is expected to be kept off for several days due to water that seeped into the boiler room transformers. The system must be recertified for use before power can be restored.

A number of new computers in the school's media center were also caught in the flood. Replacements will be covered under the district's insurance policy.

"It's so unfortunate that that happened," Toomer-Cook said. "We're just so grateful that our insurance will cover it, and we expect to have everything fully replaced by the time school starts."

Sandy Fire Battalion Chief Chris Dawson said crews were called to the school about 5:30 a.m. and assisted with shutting off the water. Crews didn't do a formal damage assessment, but the battalion chief who responded Wednesday initially estimated damage could reach $500,000.

A trench that had been dug for a separate water line channeled the water into the school, Dawson said.

"Because of the trench that was cut for that line, it sounds like that possibly caused the water to be directed into the school," he said. "It was kind of a secondary effect of the construction that was already occurring there. Otherwise it probably would have just rolled down the road and down the storm drains and wouldn't have been as big of a deal."

The state's Division of Risk Management has been called in to ensure the school is safe for students as cleanup proceeds, Toomer-Cook said. A disaster cleanup company was on hand Wednesday helping to pump out the water.

District officials remained confident Wednesday that the school will be cleaned up and ready for students in time for classes to resume Aug. 20.

Contributing: Andrew Adams

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McKenzie Romero

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