Water pipe crashes down in Basalt apartment complex, forces evacuation | PostIndependent.com

Water pipe crashes down in Basalt apartment complex, forces evacuation

Basalt firefighters prepare to make a sweep of the first floor of the Roaring Fork Apartments Tuesday to make sure no one was injured by the falling water pipe.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

UPDATE 5:15 p.m. — From the Basalt Fire Department: The evacuation center at the Basalt Regional Library will be closing at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.

An overnight shelter will be open for displaced residents from 7:30 p.m. until 7 a.m. at Basalt High School in the auxiliary gym (600 Southside Dr., Basalt).

The evacuation center will reopen at 7 a.m. Wednesday at Basalt Town Hall, 101 Midland Dr., Basalt.

Basalt High School does not accept pets. The Aspen Animal Shelter will house displaced pets. They can be dropped off at the shelter (101 Animal Shelter Road, Aspen). Aspen Animal Shelter will stay open until 8 p.m. tonight to accept displaced pets.

A six-inch diameter water pipe crashed down from the first floor ceiling of the Roaring Fork Apartments at about noon Tuesday, forcing the evacuation of the 56-unit complex in Basalt.

“It looks like a war zone in there,” Basalt-Snowmass Village fire chief Scott Thompson said at the site. “The whole ceiling is collapsed all the way down (the hallway).”

It was a chaotic scene outside the building shortly after noon as emergency responders converged and stunned residents milled around outside. Water poured out of the main entrance stairwell until firefighters shut down water as well as other utilities. Electrical wiring was exposed in the ceiling after the pipe fell. Debris littered the floor along with the pipe.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Richard Cornelius, a division chief with Basalt Fire Department.

A resident who had evacuated said the entire first floor was swamped with about two inches of water.

Roaring Fork Apartments is located just off Highway 82, east of Stubbies bar and restaurant. It opened in June by RealAmerica Inc. of Indianapolis, a company that specializes in affordable housing.

Kim Stallone, manager of the apartment complex, said she had just walked into her first-floor office at the main entrance when she heard an enormous crashing sound.

“Two second later the pipe fell,” she said.

A plumber had worked at the complex earlier in the day to fix a leak in the fire sprinkler system on a different floor, she said.

“Thank god no one was hurt,” Stallone said. “That’s all that matters right now.”

Firefighters immediately shut off the water and other utilities and conducted a sweep of the first floor to make sure no one was pinned or crushed by the pipe and debris. Thompson confirmed no was injured or killed. The firefighters continued to check the second, third and fourth floors to look for residents and pets.

It appeared that only a handful of residents were home at the time. Others arrived at the scene wanting to check the status of their homes and pets. Emergency responders were helping them retrieve pets.

The Red Cross set up an evacuation center at Basalt Regional Library and was working on arrangements for housing for the displaced residents, Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott said.

Cornelius said it would be an unknown amount of time before residents would be allowed back in.

“This building is uninhabitable right now,” he said.

Fire marshals were investigating to determine the cause of the accident.

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