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RANGELY I A component of a fire suppression system relief valve at the Western Rio Blanco Recreation Center failed Thursday night, causing flooding in the building’s weight room, racquetball courts and a storage closet.
The exact cause of the failure is unknown, Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District (WRBM) maintenance supervisor Bill Laster said.
“We had a diaphragm fail from the valve freezing,” Laster said. “We’re going to have to replace the valve and the housing. We’ve ordered it and hope to get it in Friday or early next week. Until we get that valve replaced, we’ve got the system shut off.”
At approximately 6 p.m., water began to surge from the broken valve, coursing down the narrow downstairs hallway while recreation center patrons looked on, unsure how they could help.
“It looked like a fire hydrant getting blown out in the summertime,” said Kathryn Lopez, who had just arrived for the evening Turbo Kick class. “The water was just shooting out of there. I like to help the rec center when they need anything, but I was like, ‘Do I leave or do I stay?’ I wasn’t sure what I could do.”
Town of Rangely employees Jeff LeBleu and Paul Tucker shut water off to the building at approximately 6:30 p.m. Over a foot of water stood at the building’s low point, the storage closet across from the weight room.
It took until 2 a.m. Friday morning for a pump to draw most of the water outside and into a drain in a custodial closet. Employees worked until Friday afternoon to vacuum remaining water from the downstairs.
Weight room equipment was undamaged, Laster said, though the water has probably ruined industrial vacuums and floor cleaners that were in the storage closet.
It may also have done permanent damage to the two racquetball courts’ wood floors. Laster said that while water covered the floors Thursday night, he can’t yet tell whether it penetrated beneath them.
“Physically, there’s no way to to tell what’s under it except to lift the floors,” Laster said. “It’s going to take time to see whether it buckles. I can tell you the bottom of the floor is lower than the top….The floors at the doorways are starting to buckle, and that’s a concern for us. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a real inconvenience for some people with the racquetball tournament coming up.”
WRBM will move forward with bids and repairs after an insurance adjuster assesses the building and equipment damage this week.