Basement sprinkler pipe break closes three Norwich Main Street buildings

Norwich — A sprinkler pipe break in the basement of 94-100 Main St. Friday night filled the basements of three buildings with 7 feet of water, displaced residents in eight apartments and led city officials to shut off the power in all three buildings, city officials said Sunday.

The break was discovered about 8:40 p.m. Friday, when water was seen flowing onto Main Street and through the brick sidewalk in front of the building, fire Battalion Chief Scott Merchant said Sunday. Emergency crews could not access the basements, because the water was up to the basement entrance door level on the main floor, Merchant said.

Eight residents in apartments at 94-100 Main St. were displaced when power and water service was shut off. Norwich Human Services Director Lee Ann Gomes said most residents had someplace to stay temporarily. The city paid for two residents in one unit to stay in a hotel Friday night. Gomes said she did not hear from those residents Saturday and speculated they had a place to go.

The water flooded the basements of neighboring commercial buildings – downhill from the break – at 102-110 Main St. and 112-116 Main St. The Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce is at 114 Main St.

Fire crews used a gas-powered and electric-powered pumps to remove the water to safe levels. Crews were on the scene for more than four hours Friday night and Saturday. Norwich Public Works crews were called to address damage to the brick sidewalks. 

Norwich Public Utilities spokesman Chris Riley said NPU shut off the power, because water had flooded electrical systems in the basements. Power cannot be restored to the buildings until city building inspectors give their approval, Riley said.

Director of Inspections James Troeger could not be reached for comment Sunday.

The building at 94-100 Main St., owned by 100 Main Street Associates LLC, c/o J&E Investment Co. of West Hartford, has a history of problems. A similar sprinkler water pipe break in the building in January 2013 displaced seven people and led to the condemnation of the building. In July 2016, the state Department of Labor ordered renovation work to stop in the building after discovering plumbing contractors had violated state labor laws.

The building had been managed by Norwich businessman Zane Megos in recent years. Megos was convicted of violation of probation in March 2016 and was sentenced to five years in prison for continuing a practice of taking rental deposits for apartments that were either condemned or not available for rent.

c.bessette@theday.com

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