Sprinkler system showers Towers

Freshman Drew Bingner fired off his air pellet gun from the doorway to his room like he had many times before on Thursday night. However, this time the pellet struck a sensor of the sprinkler system, dousing the 10th floor of Towers Hall North with water.

Residents of the 10th floor of Towers North were shocked to find their hall under about a quarter inch of water around 9 p.m. Thursday.

“It was a one in 1,000 chance that this would happen,” Housing and Residence Life Director Chuck Major said.

Bingner triggered the system, but is not being charged for the sprinklers going off because it was an accident, Major said.

The new sprinkler system in Towers was installed last year, Major said. Water shot out from a single sprinkler, which released about 40 gallons of water a second on the area, he said.

Most of the damage was contained to the 10th floor, but some damage also occurred on the ninth floor, where water seeped through the ceiling.

Major said he is advising students to first work with their parents’ homeowners insurance to replace anything that may have been damaged in the accident. He also said renters insurance would likely cover the accident.

Sophomore Amanda Brundidge said when the alarms went off she could see water dripping down behind the curtains in her room.

“As soon as it started dripping, I left,” she said.

Brundidge’s refrigerator, coffee maker and purse got wet in the accident, but all of the items have dried out, she said.

The damage was slightly more extensive in the ninth floor room of sophomore Kori Derrick, where water rained down from the ceiling near the outer wall, damaging a computer and a portion of the room’s carpeting.

“It looked like it was raining, but on the inside,” she said.

Major said he believed the worst damage would have occurred to anything on the floor in residents’ rooms on the 10th floor, such as carpeting or books.

Bingner’s roommate, freshman Bryan Willkom, had his computer sitting on the floor of the room. He said the computer got wet on the bottom, but has since dried out, and appears to be working just fine.

“I was lucky,” he said.

Bingner and Willkom said they have seen other items from rooms on the floor sustain damage, including a warped guitar and water-damaged textbooks.

The entire residence hall was evacuated when the sprinkler system was triggered, Major said. Residents of the 10th floor were given blankets and were able to stay in the Towers Hall lobby while crews cleaned the area, Major said. However, most residents opted to stay with friends.

Maintenance crews were called in to the area right away, Major said, and stayed until about 2 a.m. removing the water and cleaning the area. A total damage report was not available as of Friday afternoon.

Willkom agreed with Major, saying it was an accident, but said with a smile that some sort of accident was likely to occur from the use of the air pellet guns.

“It was kind of bound to happen,” he said. “We were having a lot of fights with those pellet guns. It was unfortunate, but it was probably bound to happen.”