VIDEO: Glen Arbor sprinkler system bursts, forcing evacuation of 34 residents

As of Monday evening, tenants on the south wing were told they can move back in while water damage to the north wing is still being assessed

More than three dozen seniors were evacuated from an apartment building in Williams Lake Saturday evening after a pipe in the sprinkler system broke in the attic.

Mayor Walt Cobb, who is a board member of Glen Arbor, said that he received a call at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday alerting him of the situation.

“I had to arrange for the tenants to be moved to the Sandman Hotel next door,” he told the Tribune Tuesday as he met with contractors at the building. “Some of the people have kids in town who came and picked them up.”

The damage was on the north side of the building where the sprinklers went off sending water into many of the suites.

Maintenance custodian Rex Moon said some of the beds were wet, stoves were filled with water, and the ceilings were going to have to be replaced.

“It was a two-inch elbow pipe that corroded,” Moon said. “I think there was probably two inches of water sitting inside the ceiling for about an hour before the water started coming through. Some of the lights were filled with water.”

As he walked past the industrial fans set up in the hallway that lead to the common living room area, he pointed to the ceiling where he said lots of it fell to the floor.

Cobb said people living on the south side of the building were told at a meeting Monday evening they could begin moving back in and that some of the residents would be coming into to see their suites in person Tuesday to see if they wanted to move back in and live with it as it is until it is repaired.

Unfortunately, he added,some of the residents do not have tenant insurance and the building’s insurance will only cover so much of their accommodation elsewhere.

“If some of these people are going to be out of here for a couple of months, it’s going to be expensive,” he said. “We may have to have a fundraiser.”

Glen Arbor residents Joyce McCann and Margaret West were visiting in the lobby at the Sandman before lunch Monday and said most of the tenants were in bed or just about to go to bed when the alarm went off.

“I had my pyjamas on,” McCann said.

West said she was in her pjs too and it was a fireman who got her out of bed.

At first the two women thought there was a fire and they were very worried.

“We went down to the parkade and waited there about half an hour,” West said.

McCann said the Williams Lake Fire Dept. arrived pretty quickly.

“They said ‘there’s no fire’ but the water burst,” McCann said.

Because West lives on the south side, her room is dry, but McCann lives on the other side and is not sure the extent of the damage in her suite.

Glen Arbor board member Chris Hornby said there are 34 apartments in total.

“The two apartments I went in I saw that water came into the kitchen and bathroom. The living rooms and the bedrooms were fine,” Hornby said, noting she went in to help a friend move out on Sunday.

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Glen Arbor residents Joyce McCann and Margaret West in the lobby of the Sandman Hotel where they have been staying since the sprinkler system burst in their building Saturday.

Greg Young of Cariboo Fire Protection Services goes back into Glen Arbor Monday to do some maintenance after the building received some water damage on the weekend. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Glen Arbor was evacuated Saturday evening after the sprinkler system burst sending water into some of the suites on the north end. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

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