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Published January 12 2010

Sprinkler bursts, soaks floor at MSUM’s Hagen Hall

A frozen sprinkler head thawed out Monday morning and sent water streaming down the main corridor of Hagen Hall at Minnesota State University Moorhead, school officials said.

Damage to the science building was estimated at less than $10,000, MSUM spokesman Doug Hamilton said.

“It’s not a huge loss, fortunately,” he said.

About a half-inch of water soaked carpets and cabinet bottoms in offices and the science library near the building’s south entrance, where the leak occurred in a vestibule between two sets of double doors, according to Hamilton and Jeff Goebel, physical plant director.

The sprinkler triggered an alarm at 7:28 a.m., and MSUM workers had the water shut off 28 minutes later, Hamilton said.

Crews used wet/dry vacuums and other equipment to clean up the water and tore off vinyl baseboard to dry out the walls and prevent mold from forming.

“We’ll be dealing with this for some time,” Goebel said.

Moorhead firefighters used squeegees to help push the water out of the building.

Students returning for the first day of school since winter break didn’t have their classes disrupted, Hamilton said.

The sprinkler head apparently froze during the recent cold snap, and ice pushed out the disc that normally holds water in, Hamilton said. When the ice melted, the water flowed freely.

Moorhead Fire Lt. Chad Stangeland said such sprinkler leaks are common following periods of extremely cold temperatures that cause pipes to freeze and crack.

“You won’t see the leak until it actually starts thawing out and that water inside there starts melting and all of a sudden the weak spots let go,” he said. “And so we’ve had one over at an elementary school last week, and I anticipate now (that) we have some warmer temps, we’ll be seeing them again this week.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528