A frozen sprinkler head cracked and burst and two water pipe unions ruptured shortly before noon on Thursday at the office of the Times Observer sending water cascading down two flights of stairs as staff scrambled to place empty garbage cans and recycling bins to catch water pouring from the ceiling.
Phones rang in the front office as staff sprang into action to cover computers and telephones with garbage bags while others worked shut the water to the building off.
"Our entire staff chipped in and I'm proud of how they pulled together," Times Observer Publisher Robert Patchen said.
Times Observer photos by Ben Klein
Freeze, crack and flood
City of Warren Fire Department crews and Times Observer staff use tarps to cover equipment after a sprinkler on the second floor of the Times Observer building cracked and flooded the front office. In the photo above, firefighters set up a funnel using pike hooks and tarp to divert water to the front exit.
Three to four inches of water that came down from the second floor through ceiling panels pooled at the bottom of staircases and was pushed out the front door and off the second-floor balcony with brooms and squeegees.
As water flowed back through the front office into the editorial and advertising offices, the City of Warren Fire Department worked with staff to cover the front office equipment with tarps and push water out the front door.
"They got the water shut off before we got up there," one fireman said. "The second floor had about three or four inches of water."
Firefighters set up an ingenious system of tarps and pike hooks to funnel water from the ceiling out the front door and into garbage cans. Fire crews reportedly had used a similar method early Thursday morning to funnel water from a second-floor house fire on Conewango Avenue.
Staff members carried computers and telephones through the back of the building where staff from the front office have relocated.
Those who need to visit the office during business hours are asked to enter through the side door at the end of the alley off of McDonald's parking lot. Visitors should enter the Times Observer parking lot between McDonald's and Subway and pull back and park at the back entrance.
Those visiting after hours should knock at the door near the front of the alley.
All calls may be directed to 723-8200.
Pipes bursting were not limited only to the Times Observer.
Northwest Savings Bank also had a pipe burst in a wall of the new building Thursday morning, according to a bank spokesman. Flooding was reported in the basement and staff was relocated from the room.