Broken sprinkler evacuates 11-story Richmond building - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Broken sprinkler evacuates 11-story Richmond building


Fire crews evacuated an 11-story apartment building in Downtown Richmond early Tuesday, after a broken sprinkler head sent water pouring down eight floors.

Approximately 50 people were evacuated and weren't allowed to return to their homes after building code inspectors condemned the apartment building.

About 20 residents stayed with family or friends Tuesday night but the remaining 30 sought assistance from the Red Cross.

The Red Cross set up a shelter at Fifth Baptist Church on West Cary Street. Cots, food and drinks were served to make the displaced Grace Place residents as comfortable as possible.

"I don't know what's going to happen," said resident Joshua Converse. "Are we going to stay here, is the management going to help us out put us in a hotel room or are they going to keep us in the street?"

The Red Cross said it will keep the shelter open Wednesday night then volunteers will work to find the residents more permanent housing.

Richmond firefighters arrived at the Grace Place apartment building at 400 E. Grace St. just after 7 a.m. Power was shut off from the eleventh to fifth floors, after water was discovered in one of the electrical rooms.

Residents were sent outside with blankets in the rain with temperatures in the low 40s.

"We at first responded to an alarm that went off in the building," said Lt. Robbie Hagaman of the Richmond Fire Department. "But it turned out to be a broken sprinkler head in a closet of one of the apartments."

Crews estimate between 35 and 50 gallons of water per minute poured out of the broken sprinkler. The break was found on the eighth floor, and firefighters reported extensive water damage.

The property manager told NBC12 that he and his team are working to get folks back into their homes. There is no estimate for when that will happen.

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