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Cold bursts water pipes

buildings damaged

January 19, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

Extremely cold weekend temperatures are being blamed for water line breaks that damaged two buildings and kept area fire departments busy on Sunday, according to department officials.

Nine teenage boys were displaced for at last one night because of a water main break at the Oak Hill House in Clear Spring.

At about noon Sunday, members of the Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Department responded to the group home, located at 12806 Independence Road, for a ruptured water pipe causing flooding to the back of the building, according to Assistant Chief Bryan Welch.

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A water main serving the building's second-floor sprinkler system had frozen and burst, causing about two inches of water to drip down from the second floor into part of the first floor, Welch said.

Clear Spring firefighters spent more than 21/2 hours working on the break and cleanup, he said. Members of Washington County Civil Defense Field Operations assisted.

During that time, electricity, heat and water were turned off, Welch said.

Several residents of the group home - which serves young men ages 14 to 18 - were away on home visits for the long weekend, said Oak Hill House Director Shelley Tinney, who said the remaining residents enjoyed an "outing" while firefighters worked.

Heat and electricity were restored to most of the house by Sunday afternoon, Tinney said.

However, major water damage in several rooms and a broken sprinkler system left the house in no shape to accommodate its young residents, she said.

"We're having to put our kids elsewhere, at least for tonight, maybe for several," Tinney said.

Meanwhile, a broken water pipe in the wall of a West Washington Street building caused fire officials to divert eastbound traffic north at Jonathan Street for more than an hour Sunday afternoon while members of the Hagerstown Fire Department tried to trace the water line to a shut-off valve, fire officials said.

At around 12:45 p.m., a passerby alerted police to water flowing out from under the front door of a vacant store front at 90 W. Washington St., in the old Hamilton Hotel, according to Battalion Chief Richard Hopkins.

The water pouring down through the ceiling into the first floor of the building was coming from a ruptured water line in the wall between the building's second and third stories, he said.

Firefighters ended up shutting down the main water line to the four-story brick building, which houses the office of U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Atomic Comics, Hopkins said.

They left at 1:19 p.m., he said

No information on the building's owner was available, he said.

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