Thrown Set Of Keys Causes Broken Sprinkler And Apartment Flooding

Nine apartments in the historic Troutman's Building in downtown Greensburg were damaged Tuesday when a sprinkler head broke, sending water cascading throughout the fourth floor of the former department store, where it soaked rugs and walls.

As restoration workers removed water-logged floor tiles in the hallway Tuesday night, Daniel Fajt, director of the Westmoreland Non-Profit Housing Corp., which manages the apartment building, estimated damage at several thousand dollars.

Fajt said he expected the restoration company, Fire Management Control of Monroeville, to continue working for a few days.

“We will assess it going forward,” Fajt said.

The sprinkler head was broken about 4:45 p.m. when someone tossed a set of keys in the air, hitting the sprinkler head and setting off “a stream of water,” Fajt said.

Greensburg fire Chief Tom Bell said the keys popped a glass bead in the sprinkler head.

Fajt said the water may have been running for about 15 minutes before it was shut off.

Fajt credited the fire department for a quick response. Firefighters used hoses to pump the water from the hall and apartments for more than an hour, Bell said.

”They broke out their hoses and were sucking the water out (of the building) as fast as they could. They did a remarkable job,” Fajt said.

Resident Patricia Barnhart said several rugs in her apartment were damaged and tiles were lifting off the floor.

Others, such as Cora and Marva Wentzel, left their apartments to stay in a local hotel.

The apartments are rented primarily to senior citizens. The Westmoreland County Housing Authority renovated the building in the late 1990s and converted it into a residential facility. Westmoreland County Area Agency on Aging offices are on the first floor.

For decades, the building was the anchor of the Troutman's department store chain, which closed in the 1980s. The building was vacant for several years.

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