Pipe burst in the Cal State Fullerton Student Recreation Center causes flooding, damage

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(Brandon Pho/ Daily Titan)

A fire sprinkler pipe at the north side of the Student Recreation Center (SRC) broke Monday night, causing flooding and damages to certain areas in the facility.

Scott Martin, ASI associate director of Marketing Communications and Design, said the entire sprinkler system connects to the pipe that broke, which caused the fire alarm to go off, the facility to be evacuated and triggered a response by the Fullerton Fire Department and the CSUF University Police.

The pipe connecting to the sprinkler system is vital in case of a fire and was repaired Tuesday, Martin said. The facility was cleared for reopening.

Business major Brandon Powell said he was sitting in the SRC talking on the phone after working out when he heard what “sounded like the stairs were falling down” and smelled gas.

Three people were doing pull-ups on the pipe before it burst, Powell said.

“They ran and then it got cooler because then the thing started spraying with the pressure,” Powell said.

University Police Capt. Scot Willey acknowledged there has been speculation that students may have caused the incident by hanging on the pipe but said the cause is still unknown.

“Our detectives are looking into it, our police officers talked to a couple people that night as well as the SRC staff. They’re reaching out to people that they talked to. Our detectives are following up on some video footage,” Willey said. “We’re working hand in hand with them in trying to see if we can determine if somebody did that purposely.”

All that is known so far is that a student approached the SRC front desk and told the staff that a pipe broke before the sprinkler alarm system went off, Martin said.

Willey advised anyone to come forward to University Police or the SRC as a witness or as someone taking responsibility for breaking the pipe either by accident or maliciously.

The incident was first reported at approximately 8:20 p.m.

Fullerton Fire Department eventually shut off the water.

“It took roughly 35 minutes for the water to be shut down because the entire sprinkling system drained through the pipe that broke,” Martin said.

Fullerton Fire Department and ASI building engineering stayed at the facility until midnight to refill the sprinkler system, clear up some of the water and allow students to gather their belongings, Martin said.

“We were working out and there was a pipe leak, so they made everyone get out immediately,” said marketing major Mailynn Nguyen. “We couldn’t get our stuff or anything until like 15 minutes after.”

Belfor, a property restoration insurance company, evaluated damage done to the facility Tuesday, looking at how much water reached the area, the walls, the wooden floors and carpeting.

The SRC intends to shampoo and dry the carpets, which will take around 10 days, Martin said.

“The hope is that most of everything will be salvageable, that the carpet will be able to be dried out with no mold, that the wood flooring on basketball court No. 1 will be dried, perhaps just sanded and refinished, same with Harvey McKee Studio,” Martin said.

The cost in damages is still to be determined in Belfor’s full evaluation.

The Harvey McKee Studio and basketball court No. 3 will be indefinitely inaccessible due to repairs. Any classes scheduled at Harvey McKee Studio will now take place at court No. 2 or Dance Studio, depending on availability. Drop-in fitness will continue, but locations may have to be changed, according to a Titan Recreation statement emailed to students Tuesday.

The hallway by the north stairwell is also completely closed off.

Martin hopes there won’t be a need for major repairs or refurbishing.

“We’re hoping that Belfor is going to have (the) best-case scenario for us, that we’re not going to have to replace a lot of the area that was affected by the water,” Martin said.

Brandon Pho and Sarah Wolstoncroft contributed to this report.

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