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Broken sprinkler pipe makes a nasty back-to-school mess

SHARE Broken sprinkler pipe makes a nasty back-to-school mess

PROVO — Randy Merrill's list of back-to-school supplies included a mop.

Merrill, principal of Provo's Timpview High School, worked feverishly alongside his staff over the weekend and Monday to clean up the mess left by a broken sprinkler pipe in a classroom on the upper level.

As of Tuesday morning, most of the damaged classrooms had been cleaned up and dried out, in time to welcome students back to school Wednesday.

Early estimates indicate the school suffered $50,000 in damage when the fire sprinkler pipe sprang a massive leak late Friday night, Merrill said.

Fortunately for the school, the unexpected damages will be covered by the district's insurance company.

"It's hard to know exactly what needs to be replaced," Merrill said Tuesday morning from the school at 3570 N. 650 East.

About nine classrooms on both the upper and lower floors were hit hard. In all, carpets in 14 classrooms and offices may need to be replaced.

Merrill said the leak was found in a classroom by a custodian about eight hours after the pipe burst.

Teachers and staff spent Saturday and Sunday cleaning up soggy books, papers and artwork. On Monday, they shuttled desks and other items not destroyed in the incident to other parts of the school to be cleaned and dried.

All the books, notepads, lesson plans and artwork in the classroom where the pipe broke were destroyed, Merrill said.

"The spray covered the whole room," he said. "It was basically a total loss in there for anything made of paper. I personally carried out five garbage cans full of paperback books."

While the pipe soaked the classroom above, water also quickly seeped through the floor and walls and dropped into the classrooms on the lower floor.

The sewing and food rooms were extensively damaged, he said. Administrators hope sewing machines and other electrical items, such as computers, can be replaced.

Teachers, who risked their safety to help clean up the mess, also brought in fans and drying machines to help air out the classrooms, Merrill said.

It was difficult to navigate in the water when electrical equipment was still plugged in the wall, he said.

"When you have that much water it comes down pretty heavy," he said. "It was dangerous to be there."

Merrill said the classrooms don't look pretty — some don't have ceiling tiles and carpet is duct-taped to the floor — but they are ready for students.

"It has been pleasing from an organizational standpoint to see how we cleaned this up," he said. "There wasn't a lot of groaning and there was a lot of being self-less."


E-mail: jeffh@desnews.com