Flood in Barge Hall causes significant damage

Mitchell Roland, Staff Reporter

 Early estimates show that a recent flood inside Barge Hall caused $500,000 in damage, though the total cost could be much higher.

The flooding, which occurred around 1 a.m. on Feb. 13, resulted from a pipe burst on the fourth floor of the building. According to Associate Vice President of Campus Planning & Facilities Management Shane Scott, the pipe burst due to the recent cold weather in Ellensburg.

“This was just the worst-case scenario because it’s like on the fourth floor,” Scott said. “And then it just started draining through the building in that southeast corner.”

When the cold air entered the building, it froze an elbow pipe of the building’s sprinkler system. This caused the line to fail and start releasing “massive quantities” of water.

The fire system’s emergency alert call went to the boiler house on campus since it is staffed 24 hours a day. Initially, the call was placed as a fire call since the fire system was activated. When police responded to Barge Hall, they realized the building was, in fact, flooding.

Scott said the crews’ quick response time on the scene saved several thousand dollars of additional damage to the building.

“Working with the city, they got the water shut off before my crews even got there,” Scott said.

Insurance adjusters are still estimating just how much damage was done to the building, and engineers spent last week water mapping the building. While the water to the building was shut off quickly by the city of Ellensburg, as much as three inches of water still flooded some rooms.

Scott said CWU has been in contact with the Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation due to Barge Hall’s presence on historic places’ national registry.

While this registration only protects the outside of the building, Scott said CWU’s policy is to keep the inside of the building as close as possible to its original look. The Department of Archeology and Historic Places is also monitoring the repair efforts.