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Burst sprinkler pipe spells a mess for West Side library

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 18. 2015 10:22PM

MANCHESTER — Thousands of books, eight computer stations and other library material were ruined Tuesday night when a main sprinkler pipe burst in the West Side branch of the Manchester City Library, filling the lower level with 5 feet of water before workers could shut off the deluge.

Water poured from the 5-inch diameter pipe for nearly four hours, while workers tried to thaw out an outside valve and shut off water to the building, said Denise Van Zanten, director of the Manchester library.

The adjacent Cashin Senior Center was not damaged, Van Zanten said.

She said 17,000 books and audiobooks were lost; only volumes on the top shelf went unscathed. Phones, electric baseboard heaters and furnishings are also probably ruined, she said. She expects the branch will be closed for at least two weeks to dry out, and flooring and wallboard will have to be removed to prevent mold in the 140-year-old building.

“We never had this much water. Five feet of water is something I’ll never forget,” Van Zanten said.

The lower level includes the branch’s reference section, adult fiction and nonfiction, eight computer stations, audiobooks and the teen area.

The branch is closed on Tuesdays, but a librarian was there for a portion of the day and did not think the interior was cold, Van Zanten said.

The pipe is below grade and runs along an exterior, west wall of the building. The library’s custodian reported the frozen pipe at 5 p.m. The city’s facilities division crew arrived at 5:30 p.m., and the pipe burst 10 minutes later, Van Zanten said.

She and library staff remained in the upper level for several hours, but had to evacuate at 9 p.m. when the power company shut off electricity. At 9:30 p.m., Manchester Water Works was able to shut off the water supply to the building.

She said Manchester Water Works had to contend with a frozen valve. MWW Director David Paris said his crews don’t always know where a shut-off valve is located, and it’s usually buried under snow.

By 11:30 p.m., the fire department had pumped the standing water out of the library.

West Side library materials should be returned to the main Carpenter Memorial Library, and officials hope to reschedule as many West Side events to the main library as possible.

Public Safety Weather Manchester

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