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Broken water main likely cause of flood at BYU

PROVO — A broken water main early Saturday morning is believed to be the cause of flooding at Brigham Young University's George Albert Smith Fieldhouse that will close the athletic facility at least through Monday.

Water was 5 feet deep and pouring out windows of basement offices of the athletic facility when BYU physical-facilities workers arrived shortly after 6:40 a.m. Water probe alarms first indicated the problem, said BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins.

The total estimated damage caused by the flooding had not yet been determined, Jenkins said. Crews were working into the evening Saturday to pump water from the athletic facility and determine the cause of the problem.

"We're not certain, but at this point in time we believe we have experienced a break in one of our main water lines," Jenkins said.

The water main believed to be the source of the problem runs directly in front of the Smith Fieldhouse, she said.

"We have not been able to access it because of the flooding," Jenkins said Saturday evening.

Seven offices and a storage room were flooded in the basement of the athletic facility, and water as much as 2 inches deep was found in about 20 offices and storage rooms on the ground level, Jenkins said. Basement offices of the fieldhouse are utilized by assistant volleyball, basketball and golf coaches.

Utah Disaster Kleenup, working in support of BYU physical facilities, pumped water 5 inches deep from the Smith Fieldhouse's indoor track and about 3 inches deep from the indoor tennis courts south of the athletic facility, Jenkins said.

Water also was pumped from underneath the volleyball court.

"The volleyball court in the Smith Fieldhouse is raised," Jenkins said. "There was no water on the court, but there was flooding under the court."

Whether the court was damaged by the flooding is unknown, she said.

"We'll have to wait and see if there are any problems there," Jenkins said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' stake conferences scheduled Saturday and today in the Smith Fieldhouse were relocated to the de Jong Concert Hall, and all classes scheduled to meet in the fieldhouse Monday have been canceled, Jenkins said.

Crews turned off power and water to the Smith Fieldhouse, as well as to the neighboring Student Athlete Center and Stephen L. Richards Building. All three buildings were evacuated by 9 a.m. Saturday and were closed throughout the day.

The road between the Smith Fieldhouse and the Student Athlete Center also was closed Saturday. It is expected to re-open today.

There was no flooding in the Richards Building or the Student Athlete Center, but floodwater was 18 inches deep in the pedestrian tunnel between the Richards Building and the Smith Fieldhouse.

Only a couple of coaches were working in the Smith Fieldhouse when it was evacuated Saturday morning, and only a few staff members were at the Student Athlete Building, Jenkins said.

About 200 people were evacuated from the Richards Building, which contains five gymnasiums, five dance studios and three Olympic-size heated swimming pools.

Power and water were restored to the Richards Building by noon and to the Student Athlete Center by 1 p.m., Jenkins said. The soonest power will be restored to the Smith Fieldhouse is Monday.

The Richards Building is expected to be open today for church services.


E-mail: jpage@desnews.com