Harrisburg High School Sprinkler Break Damages Frozen Food

A Harrisburg High School worker's attempt at a good deed Monday instead broke a fire sprinkler in the cafeteria freezer and destroyed about $10,000 in food, district officials said.


The incident around 10:30 a.m. brought out city fire trucks and prompted a school evacuation when fire alarms sounded, said interim Chief Financial Officer Bill Gretton.


The incident started with a leaking fire sprinkler in a large freezer, Gretton said. A worker trying to knock off ice build-up broke the fixture, which sent water gushing into the freezer.


A smell reported during the incident came from carbon dioxide gas used to pressurize the system, Gretton said. No one was hurt, he said.


About 100 students had already finished lunch, and fire officials allowed the school's other 1,000 students to eat lunch during the three remaining cafeteria shifts. District maintenance workers stopped the water flow and replaced the broken sprinkler head "with one that's more substantial," said Gretton.


Water was contained to the tiled kitchen and easily mopped up and swept down drains, Gretton said. Federal officials will be notified that the destroyed food included federal commodities, such as frozen pancakes, he said.


All the damaged food should be replaced by the end of the week, Gretton said.

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