December 4, 2001
Serving Western Deschutes County
Sisters, Oregon

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The Nugget Newspaper
Sisters, Oregon
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Leak destroys school computer lab
By Jim Cornelius

A frozen pipe in the heating system caused a leak in the Sisters Elementary School computer lab that damaged or destroyed the equipment and damaged some of the fixtures.

The leak was found early Wednesday morning, November 28. According to school district construction manager Bob Martin, a fitting froze and expanded and solder on a copper pipe failed due to freezing, which caused a 3/4-inch hot water pipe to leak.

The water, which ran through the school's boiler, created an oily steam that penetrated and almost certainly destroyed all the electronic equipment in the "cyber site."

The steam was so dense that staff at the elementary school reported droplets falling from the ceiling.

Principal Tim Comfort estimated the damage would run upwards of $30,000, but an actual accounting has yet to be completed.

"We're in consultation with the insurance agent," Comfort said. "It could be pretty high."

The district has a $1,000 deductible in its policy with the Portland-based March U.S.A., Inc.

There were 30 work stations in the lab, Comfort said. In addition, there were 10 or 15 other computers that had been delivered there to be used elsewhere in the district. There were also printers, television monitors, a large TV screen and other equipment.

While insurance should cover the equipment costs, Comfort noted that the accident is a blow to all the volunteers and staff who worked hard to get the computer lab up and running.

However, the principal asserted, the "cyber site" won't be down any longer than it takes to get new equipment and clean up the mess.

He acknowledged that it will take some time, but "we're going to come right back; we've got good insurance and we're going to get back up to speed as quickly as we can."

Martin said the district will now insulate the exterior louvers on the heating system to reduce cold air intake to prevent a similar accident from happening again in the future.

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