Geyser erupts at U of U when water pipe breaks

Geyser erupts at U of U when water pipe breaks

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A group of freshmen woke up Friday morning with a geyser erupting right outside their bedroom windows at the University of Utah.

Student Elan Bartholomew says he was asleep inside the Chapel Glen 802 building when the fire alarm went off. He ran outside to see what was going on and instead of seeing flames or smoke, he saw water running down the hillside.

"I just saw this wave of water come down and so people started getting out of its way. And then the ground just kind of broke apart and this huge geyser just shoots up out of nowhere," he said.

Student Erik O'Brien was also saw the ground burst open.

The ground just kind of broke apart and this huge geyser just shoots up.

–Elan Bartholomew

"Brown water started to shoot up like maybe as tall as me and I'm about six feet," he said. "Then just all of a sudden the grass was like, boom, shot away. Then it just launched and rocks went flying everywhere. We could hear them flying around. It was pretty spectacular."

"It was about three stories higher than the actually building. It was insane," said Bartholomew.

University Plant Operations Director Cory Higgins says two pipes actually broke Friday morning. The geyser came from an irrigation pipe. The second break was a 12 inch water main under the road a short distance away. He says the two are unrelated and they aren't sure which one broke first.

"They occasionally break and that's what's happened here. Same with the irrigation [pipes]," said Higgins. "There is a change of pressure and a few things happen and a fitting will blow."

Higgins says the pipes are all relatively new. They were put in during the campus infrastructure upgrade before the Olympics.


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