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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pipe Burst Floods Maryland Senate Offices

An old pipe burst in the William S. James Senate office building Monday afternoon, flooding a slew of offices and prompting the Department of General Services to temporarily shutter the building.

Thirty-five of the state's 47 senators have offices in the building, and staff members were moving equipment out of offices on the fourth floor Monday afternoon. The pipe failed on the west side of the fourth floor, where many GOP members have their offices.Sam Cook, a director at the Department of General Services, said the building will reopen Tuesday morning. Three senate offices took the brunt of the damage and will be closed for a longer period of time.

Cook said that a 3-inch water pipe connected to the building's sprinkler system rusted out and ripped open around 1:30 p.m. Monday afternoon. "Most of the damage was just ceiling tiles dropped and the floor is wet," Cook said. He said there was a restoration company on site Monday evening.

The Georgian-style James building, built in 1938, is the older of the two Senate office buildings. Most of it is set aside for individual senators’ offices, while the hearing rooms and committee offices are in the Thomas V. Mike MillerBuilding.

Sen. James N. Robey, a Democrat from Howard County, said his first floor office was spared, but he saw the leak. "It was like a waterfall coming down the elevator shaft," he said. He noted that his socks were wet from walking around the building.

Robey said the pipe that burst was part of the sprinkler system, and was told that the building had to be evacuated since the fire suppression system was no longer functioning.

The Maryland General Assembly began its annual 90-day session last Wednesday. Lawmakers are expected back inAnnapolis Monday evening for a session that starts at 8 p.m.

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