Meridian High set to reopen Tuesday after pipe burst causes closure

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDDecember 9, 2013 

LAUREL - Barring heavy snows or extreme weather, Meridian High School is set to reopen Tuesday, Dec. 10, after a burst pipe over the weekend caused the school to close for most students Monday.

A sprinkler head burst above a second-floor student lounge in the education building Saturday afternoon, and the water ran for about 20 minutes before it could be shut off, Superintendent Tom Churchill said. Water rushing through the sprinkler line set off an alarm at about 4:30 p.m., alerting the school's maintenance man, who came as quickly as he could to shut off the water.

ServiceMaster crews were on scene starting Saturday night to remove water and use fans to dry things out.

"At this point, we're just getting things cleaned up and dried out as best they can," Churchill said Monday.

Water ran into 10 first-floor classrooms. Some classes only had wet carpets, while others had fallen ceiling tiles and wet walls. Eight teachers had to move their classes, some into classrooms in the new gym building and Career and Technical Education building, with others using space in the library and the old cafeteria.

Churchill said it has been hard for staff - who had just moved into the new building in April and are now dealing with water damage - but that teachers have been flexible.

The water doesn't appear to have damaged any computers.

"We were fortunate in that regard that we didn't lose a bunch of computers or equipment," Churchill said.

The district was still waiting Monday for an insurance investigator to arrive at the school to determine the cause of the burst pipe.

While it was about 22 degrees at that time, it had been colder Friday night.

"We're really interested in why it happened," Churchill said. "We'll be anxious to know what the cause was and how we can ensure that doesn't happen again."

The district will apply for an emergency closure waiver so that students don't have to make up for Monday's closure at the end of the year.

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com. Read her School Days blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/schools or follow her on Twitter at @bhamschools.

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