Water is usually the firefighter's ally, but it has also become the enemy with the arctic cold bursting pipes in homes and businesses throughout the valley.
"The extreme weather conditions, i.e. the cold, is causing fire sprinkler systems and culinary water systems to freeze up . . . rupturing pipes," said Salt Lake Fire Battalion Chief Jim Kleine."It's happening all over the place. There's not a fire department in the valley that's not affected by it."
A broken sprinkling system at the Boyer Building, 185 S. State, spewed water into the street late Monday afternoon and flooded much of the basement. About 50 square feet of ceiling tiles fell and carpet was soiled, Kleine said. Bank records and the building's elevator control equipment may have also been damaged.
No official damage estimates were available, he said. "But the potential is there for $5,000 to $10,000 dollars."
Students at Skyline High were sent home Monday morning because of broken pipes that sent water flooding through the school's auditorium and the main power room, burning out several transformers. Plumbers and electricians worked all night to alleviate further damage and restore power, said Assistant Principal Betty Yanowitz.
Electricity has been restored to the school's main building, and classes are being shuffled from other buildings. "We're being very flexible," she said.
Yanowitz said no damage estimates have been made because rescheduling classes was the first priority. And, besides, by Tuesday morning there were still no lights in the auditorium and damage estimates can't be made in the dark.
A fire sprinkler pipe burst at the Chateau Brickyard retirement residence, 3080 S. 13th East, about 10:15 p.m. Monday. "It had the potential for a disaster," said fire dispatcher Trisha Holt. "We had water coming from the fourth story down."
Fortunately, a firefighter was able to close off a pipe that shut down the water flow, greatly limiting the scope of the problem, she said.
"We are having disaster cleanup people come down," said manager Becky McWhorter, who had to make several phone calls before finding an agency that wasn't already cleaning up somewhere else. "Water was just pouring off the balcony out there."
No one was injured during the incident and only one person was relocated to another apartment, she said.
Another water pipe burst earlier Monday at Weinstocks department store in the Crossroads Mall. Carpet in a small area of the store was soaked, but no merchandise was damaged.
Numerous other homes and businesses throughout the valley have experienced the same headache. "It's a continuous problem," Kleine said.