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Frozen floods downtown
Sprinklers burst in shopping malls

Daron Letts
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A deep torrent of water rushed out of Centre Square Mall on New Year's Day after the shopping centre's sprinkler system ruptured. Minutes later, a ribbon of ice crossed the sidewalk and lined the curbside to 51 Avenue.

nnsl file photo

A stream of slushy water flows from the 49 Street entrance of Centre Square Mall shortly after a water pipe burst on New Year's Day. Firefighters and maintenance staff worked together to seal the leak at around 10:30 a.m. - Daron Letts/NNSL photo

The Instaloan branch bore the brunt of the water damage. The floors behind the tills were torn up late last week and the cleanup continues this week.

A crew of firefighters responded to the fire alarm activated in the Northern Heights condominiums by the shopping centre's broken water line at around 10:30 a.m. on New Year's Day.

Tenants of the 17-storey building evacuated as a fire crew arrived at the site. Elevator service was interrupted for about an hour. The temperature was about -40 Celsius.

Firefighters worked with maintenance staff to shut off the water and then reset the alarm, according to Dennis Marchiori, City of Yellowknife's director of public safety.

By noon, the only service vehicle on the scene was a van from Carl's Carpet Cleaning Ltd., which had been dispatched to clean up the mess at Instaloan. A frozen puddle had formed in front of that storefront, as well.

"We have gotten a few calls similar to this already in 2014," Marchiori stated in an e-mail to Yellowknifer, adding other businesses and at least one school have been involved.

On Thursday, maintenance staff at Yk Centre shut off the sprinkler system before a fire crew arrived, but not before more than 1,500 litres of water gushed onto the floor near Roy's Audio Video, said mall manager Hughie Graham.

The water was contained and cleaned up within about two hours, he added, thanks to the quick response of staff who were on-site at the time. Roy's Audio and Video cleaned up the mess in its store by Friday.

Late last month, a pipe that burst in the second floor of the Yk Inn above the upper level of Centre Square Mall cascaded water onto Main Street Donair and Falafel near the shopping centre's Franklin Street entrance. The break occurred hours after after the more than three-hour power outage on Dec. 29. The business remained closed the next morning to clean up, according to owner Yousry Abdelmegid.

"Of course, the water made damage everywhere," he said. "The water was right by the entrance, so we couldn't open until 1 p.m. in the afternoon."

Some ceiling tiles were damaged, but the ceramic floor tiles prevented significant water damage to the cafe, but the eatery lost about 40 per cent of its business due to the closure, he said.

"It's lucky that it wasn't that busy, because it's not that busy during the holidays," he said.

The power outage also cost Abdelmegid about $300-worth of spoiled deserts, milk and sandwiches after his freezers at his second business, Main Street Cafe, shut off, he said. A cafe fridge broke during the power surge when electricity was reconnected, he added.

Abdelmegid's third business, Newtech HVAC maintenance service, gained a bit of business from commercial and residential properties during last month's cold snap, he said.

"I did a couple of freeze-ups that a couple of customers had," he said. "I know of many, many other companies that have had broken pipes."

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