DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. - Bitter cold temperatures made for a hectic day in Douglas County on Monday, when water pipes froze at six schools.
Authorities shut down five of them, including Legend High School in Parker, where water began dripping down from the ceiling after the fire suppression system sprang a leak.
“My daughter called me… about 15 minutes after I dropped her off this morning,” said parent Anna Lima. “She said the pipes weren’t working. They had burst.”
Parents and bus drivers scrambled back to school to pick up children.
“One pod at the school had water on the floor and some ceiling tile down,” said Bill Moffitt, chief operations officer for the Douglas County School District.
When asked why there were so many frozen pipes at Douglas County Schools, Moffitt replied, “It’s just cold.”
He said the average overnight temperature dropped down to 10 below zero Sunday night.
Meanwhile, Denver Public Schools said John Amesse Elementary School will be closed on Tuesday because of mechanical problems with its heating system and continued cold weather.
Crews are working to repair the heating system for the school at 5440 Scranton St., DPS spokeswoman Kristy Armstrong said in news release Monday night.
Back in Douglas County, Moffitt said that within minutes after learning about the leak at Legend High School, district officials learned that four other schools didn’t have water.
“The pipes froze at Sedalia, Cherry Valley and Franktown Elementary Schools,” he said, “and at Sierra Middle School.”
Moffitt said that to his knowledge there was no damage at those four schools, but they were shut down because there was no water moving through the pipes.
Late Monday afternoon authorities learned of another frozen water line at Lone Tree Elementary School.
Authorities say there was no damage at that school.
Moffitt said that three of the schools, Sierra, Legend and Cherry Valley all have their own wells. He said the pipes froze between the wells and the schools and that work crews spent much of the day trying to thaw the ice jam in the pipes.
When asked if district officials turned the thermostats down over the weekend when students aren’t in school, Moffitt replied, “We try to save energy, but it’s a night setback. And that night setback is right at 60 degrees. So in no case should that have an impact on the situation.”
Moffitt said his staff is trying to determine whether the sprinkler system pipe that ruptured is too close to an outside air vent.
“We might have to relocate that pipe,” he said.
Moffitt said they’re still trying to figure out what the long-term fix might be for the frozen water lines at the other five schools.
He said the problems will be repaired and the schools will be back in session on Tuesday.
But work crews will be keeping a close eye on all the schools with temperatures expected to drop below zero for the second night in a row.