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Broken sprinkler head floods gym floor

September 08, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

The Martin Luther King Center in Hagerstown was flooded Wednesday night but Hurricane Dennis wasn't to blame.

A group of teenagers had just finished a pick-up basketball game when a member of the losing side kicked the basketball and it soared more than 40 feet, hit a sprinkler head, and set it off around 7:55 p.m., said Michael Rodgers, whose team won the game 21-19.

About a half-inch of water rained down and pooled in the center of the gymnasium floor of the North Street building, said Ruth Monroe, director of the Martin Luther King center, as she swept up debris from the incident.

Teens and staff at the center were quick to grab mops and buckets to help out.

"They're doing a beautiful job," said Monroe.

Rodgers, 15, said he plays basketball at the center regularly and didn't hesitate to volunteer to pitch in.

"Without it (the gym), we'd have nowhere else to play," he said.

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Some of the water dripped down to the basement, which is used by the Washington County Board of Education for storage of school supplies, said Hagerstown Fire Department Captain Randy Myers.

The water caused less than $1,000 damage to the gym and storage room, he said.

It took firefighters about 30 minutes to shut off the valve because the control panels and the office where they were located were locked and the keys weren't around, said Myers.

"We had to break in," he said.

He estimated 500 gallons of water were released. Nothing like this had ever happened at the MLK center before but has elsewhere, he said.

"It's not uncommon," he said.

The fire department was short-handed Wednesday evening and seven firefighters from Antietam, Pioneer Hook & Ladder and Western Enterprise responded, said Myers.

City fire police rerouted traffic around North Street while the gym was being cleaned up.

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