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Pipe thaw floods former factory

By JEFF STANTON - jstanton@newsexaminer.com

Some say there are silver linings to dark clouds.

That may be the case for the Economic Development Group (EDG) of Connersville after a flood raced through a 50,000-square-foot section of the former D&M factory on Tuesday morning.

The cause: the sprinkler system’s pipes, frozen during the recent sub-zero temperatures, gave way during a thaw during the last 48 hours, sending water gushing through the building and out the shipping bay doors like Niagara Falls.

The 650,000-square-foot facility has several sections to it; the one in question faces 21st Street near Columbia Avenue.

Dan Parker, the EDG director, said the sprinkler system is in a heated hut, but temperatures were so cold that it overtook the heat.

And that silver lining? Water did not reach any of the tenants currently occupying space to the southeast of the flooded area, which includes WorkOne and Ivy Tech.

“All these (sprinkler) huts are heated, but when you get down that low of temperature, there’s not a lot you can do,” Parker commented as he watched the water flow out of the building.

Parker was at the facility Monday night to check on it, while preparing for a meeting with representatives of Protek Corp. of Richmond. Protek specializes in fire safety and sprinkler systems, among other things.

“I came in here last night and it was nothing like this, there was no water on the floor to speak of,” Parker said. “The temperature got up where some of this started to melt and now, frozen water won’t spew, but once it melts and there’s a break, you’ve got a major problem.”

Parker and Craig Howell, EDG president of the board of directors, toured the rest of the facility and could not find any additional flooding or evidence of more frozen sprinklers. EDG has owned the former factory, which manufactured washers, dryers and dishwashers, since June 2016.

Jimmy Johnson, representative of Protek, arrived at the building shortly before 11 a.m. and used an oversized pipe wrench to halt the flow of water throughout the 50,000-foot section. Parker had not had time to assess how much damage the flood caused.

The south end of the building is being used for storage by Stant Manufacturing. No water had reached that part of the facility, Parker said.

However, he did indicate water had reached a 100,000-square-foot section adjacent to the main flooded area.

“My fear is I don’t know if there is more of these waiting to happen,” Parker said.