Damage was minimal; flooding not the cause for school closure

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Firefighters with the Scappoose Rural Fire District help clean up flooding in the schools halls Saturday, Dec. 7.Columbia County’s recent cold snap caused school closures, traffic delays and a number of auto accidents. While residents spend their energy worrying about how to commute to and from work or school, the possibility of frozen or burst water lines is an often-overlooked effect of such a sudden drop in temperature.

The Scappoose Rural Fire District and the Scappoose Police Department responded to reports of a flood at Scappoose High School Saturday, Dec. 7, at noon. One of the school’s boiler systems had ruptured and was spraying water into the school’s hallway, said Chris Lake, division chief with SRFD.

“Someone walking by heard water running in the school,” Lake said. “We were called and arrived with the [Scappoose] Police Department and gained access to the hall... there was quite a bit of standing water in the hallway.”

There was little damage to the school aside from the heater cores that froze, causing the boiler’s pipes to burst, said Stephen Jupe, superintendent of the Scappoose School District.

“Basically we had two heater cores and they somehow froze up and the pipes into them or out of them burst,” Jupe said, adding that two pipes connected to the boiler burst over the school’s A and B halls.

Jupe said the boiler and its pipes are located in the school’s ceiling, which caused the water to leak down into the school’s halls and about seven or eight classrooms.

“The water didn’t hit any electronic equipment aside from a smoke detector,” he said. “There was minimal damage. We were lucky it didn’t hit the computer lab.”

Jupe said the school custodians were able to isolate and bypass the boiler until it is repaired, a cost he said he is still unsure about.

After responding to the scene, SRFD officials helped mop up water that had spread across the school’s floors.

Jupe said the flood had nothing to do with the school’s closure Monday and Tuesday.

“If the roads hadn’t been so terrible, we could’ve brought students back,” he said. “We are restrictive as to the amount of days we are able to take off without having compensation time at the end of the year. Once we hit three days [off], we’re getting close to the total allowable margin. I try to hold back. We’re only in December.”

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