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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Burst Pipes Flood Hospital Basements

THE Royal Berkshire Hospital was forced to postpone six appointments today after a burst pipe caused flooding last night.

The radiator pipe - located in the King Edward and West wards waiting rooms on the second floor close to the London Road entrance - flooded shortly after 9pm and water leaked into the Berkshire Cancer Centre and Medical Physics unit.

Both are outpatients departments so no patients were affected at the time, but the flooding caused damage to equipment in the Medical Physics Department - forcing staff to cancel six appointments there.

Crews from Caversham Road, Whitley Wood and Wokingham Road fire stations spent 90 minutes using specialist pumps to clear the area.

Hospital spokeswoman Jo Barrett said: "Staff, including a plumber and electrician, worked through the night to clear the flooded area and to repair the faulty pipe. Specialist staff in this area are currently assessing the situation."

Mold Found in South Carolina Dorm Rooms

The University of South Carolina is working to eliminate a mold infestation from a 73-year-old dorm that forced some students out of their rooms.

Students began noticing mold forming in some Sims dorm rooms two weeks ago, and the school reacted with letters to parents, inspections and testing.

After getting test results, three of the dorm’s 117 rooms required enough cleaning to move six students to new housing, USC spokesman Wes Hickman said. Another nine students with histories of respiratory ailments have chosen to leave Sims, he said.

The school has no plans to move any more of the dorm’s 219 remaining students since cleanup should eliminate the mold, Hickman said. Once cleaned, contaminated rooms could be used again, he said.

But some parents are concerned about the health effects from the mold.

“She was exposed to something that we might not see until much later,” said Lynn McKenzie of Atlanta, whose daughter has been fighting a persistent cough since her first weekend on campus. “It’s not making me comfortable for her to continue living there.”

McKenzie said her daughter never suffered a respiratory ailment before moving into Sims last month. Hickman said the campus health center has not seen a rise in respiratory cases.

Still, McKenzie and Jon Bennett, another parent with a daughter in Sims, want to know if the school has a backup plan to house students.

“If they have to move them into hotel rooms so they can be assured of being safe, the university should do it,” said Bennett of Alpharetta, Ga. “They don’t need to be focusing on, ‘I’m going to get sick.’ They need to focus whether they will pass their next psych test.”

Sims along with the two other dorms that make up the Women’s Quad are slated to undergo a major $27 million renovation this summer. Hickman said the school is not basing repair decisions on the impending makeover.

“The health and safety of the students are the university’s primary concerns,” he said.

Parents and students complained Sims was excessively humid when classes started. Resident assistants recommended students have dehumidifiers.

McKenzie said the dorm smelled musky when she arrived. Jon Bennett’s daughter, Rachel, said her room was so moist that towels did not dry and shoes felt wet. She recently found mold on her clothes in her hamper and will throw them away.

USC offered to pay for dry cleaning and replacing damaged clothing. The school said it reacted quickly to mold complaints with inspections, independent-lab testing and cleaning. Two emails were sent to parents and meetings were held with students.

Kirsten Kennedy, USC’s executive director of university housing, wrote in an email that broken fiberglass pipe insulation in several closets along with “excessive rains” led to higher than normal humidity levels in the dorm. That mixed with the “organic fibers from clothing and other sources” to form the mold, she said.

Kennedy wrote that health officials told her “these molds are considered common allergens in our area of the country and exist in most commercial and residential buildings to some degree.”

Less than 9 percent of the rooms, which would be about 10, required unspecified “additional attention,” Kennedy wrote.

Despite assurances the rooms will be cleaned, some parents and students remain uneasy about Sims.

“Who knows what I’m breathing in,” Rachel Bennett said. “I don’t want to be stuck with moldy room all year.”

Fire Damages Family's Peekskill Home

A reported electrical fire broke out early this morning, forcing a family of seven, including a 2-year-old girl, to evacuate their home.

No one was injured in the 2:26 a.m. blaze at 1213 Constant Ave., but it destroyed an upstairs bedroom. Peekskill Fire Chief Lenny Varella Jr. said the fire’s cause was electrical and accidental. Firefighters did not determine exactly how it started. Peekskill and Lake Mohegan firefighters battled the blaze.

Betty McGougain, 58, told The Journal News/ that her 20-year-old son Yaquba was playing video games in his bedroom when the fire broke out.

Everyone else was sleeping, she said, including her 21-year-old daughter, Sara, and 2-year-old granddaughter, Iyanna Roman. They were in the other upstairs bedroom.

Her son rushed downstairs and woke her and her 62-year-old husband James up and told them to get out.

"Ma, Dad, get up there's a fire," she recalls Yaquba saying. "I can't get it out. I can't get it out."

Betty McGougain hurried to the dining room and called 911. Everyone evacuated safely from the home where they've lived for seven years, including her 16-year-old identical twin sons, Ishmail and Esaa, who were in the other downstairs bedroom.

The family has a small fire extinguisher, she said, but no one could figure out how to use it. Firefighters allowed the family back inside this morning and at least two family members slept on couches in the living room.

About 7:45 a.m., water continued to drip from the ceiling onto a tarp firefighters put on Betty McGougain’s bed. Her bedroom is below her son’s. She fears his Peekskill High School diploma that he just earned may have been lost.

"It could have been worse," she said. "Thank God we all got out and are safe."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Burst Pipe Floods Spa

It was 6:45 A.M. on Sept. 8th, said Meadows Spa owner Laura Garbatow, when employee Dawn Morace found that approximately 150,000 gallons of water had flooded their establishment from burst pipes outside. “I opened up that morning, and there were two big pipes with water not just flowing but gushing in,” Morace said.

“Flooring, equipment, everything was ruined,” said Garbatow. “It wasn’t just cosmetic damage.” She could not provide the Chronicle with an estimate of the cost of the damage, however. “We’re still dealing with insurance, so I don’t want to quote,” she added.

The water also flooded the nearby AMC Loews Fresh Meadows 7 movie theater.

The gym-spa establishment’s following, however, has managed to stay in high spirits. Garbatow credits her members with a great deal of acceptance, energy and support during the business’ crisis. The ruined facilities have forced the spa to move its classes and exercises outside but, Garbatow says, “the members are excited to work outside. We even do Zumba outside.”

Others, however, give Garbatow the credit for the spa-goers’ enthusiasm and energy. “She’s an extraordinary woman,” said Morace. “It was the most devastating thing she’s ever seen.”

Garbatow said that she was terrified that she would be forced to shut down at first, but the repairs have been going unexpectedly well. Some of the club’s facilities are already functional. Garbatow credits her landlord with the speedy repairs, as well as her maintenance and security staff.

Fire Causes $200,000 in Damage to Apartment Building

Investigators are working to determine the cause of a fire that caused an estimated $200,000 in damage to a four-apartment building this morning in Springfield.

The blaze at Brentwood Estates at 317 30th St. was reported just after 10 a.m. The fire began on the ground floor of an apartment, and spread to the building’s common attic area, Battalion Chief Dana Burwell said.

Two apartments sustained heavy damage, but firefighters stopped the fire before flames crept into the building’s other two apartments, Burwell said.

One firefighter sustained a “minor” injury when a television set fell onto his ankle while he fought the blaze, Burwell said.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fire Damages Transition Home in Salt Lake

A three-alarm structure fire downtown caused extensive damage to an intended transition home for homeless men Sunday morning.

The fire at 556 S. 500 East broke out around 7:30 a.m., Salt Lake City Fire Deputy Chief Dan Walker said. Firefighters arrived within minutes and found heavy fire and smoke coming from the roof of the building.

The home was vacant when the blaze started.

Michelle Templin, director of community engagement for Volunteers of America Utah, said the organization bought the home last winter and was completing the permit process to get the home remodeled. It was to house as many as 14 homeless men between the ages of 18 and 24.

Templin said the organization hopes to have the project completed by December. It would have been the second transition home created by the group, as there is one for women nearby.

"We were really excited to have one for men, and we still will," she said. "It will just take us longer than we had hoped. It's really sad, but we're really happy that no one was in the house."

Walker said crews arriving to battle the blaze confirmed there were no victims in a search of the home. No firefighters were injured fighting the fire.

Firefighters were able to keep the blaze to one building and had it under control within an hour, Walker said.

Neighbor Sean Bennett said his girlfriend woke him up and alerted him to the fire. He said alarms also alerted everyone.

"I could feel the heat coming through the windows. … It was definitely intense heat," he said.

Bennett said he had heard of the plans for the building and was excited for the development in the area. Still, he was glad no one was injured in the blaze.

"Luckily it was vacant and no one got hurt," he said. "A lot of people live in this area. I'm just happy everybody is safe. The building is a loss, but we're all safe and life's good."