FALL RIVER (CBS) – A water main break flooded Durfee High School early Wednesday morning, forcing the city to close the building for the day. Classes in the school have also been canceled for Thursday.
Water was seen pouring down the steps of one of the school’s entrances before sunrise.
Authorities said thousands of gallons of water may have leaked out overnight after a 6-inch pipe burst on the fourth floor around 3 a.m. Several water pumps could be seen outside the school grounds.
“It’s been putting thousands of gallons a minute out,” District Chief James Mellen. “It took us a little while to figure out, it’s very old piping, where the shutoffs were. I would conservatively estimate 30,000 gallons easily have leaked out through the building.”
The wing impacted the most contains science classrooms and kitchens.
The initial task to shut off the water was difficult due to the age of the school.
“It took us a little while–it’s very old piping–where the shut offs were,” said Mellen.
Officials estimate about 40,000 gallons total entered the hallways. About four inches of water was dispersed throughout the building.
Computers, equipment, supplies, files, personal and professional possessions belonging to teachers and students have all be ruined.
The school was not entirely empty throughout the day, though. Tansey Elementary School officials said they detected gas outside the school around 9:35 a.m. and as a precaution, everyone in the elementary school was moved to the auditorium at Durfee High School.
Students remained in the auditorium with access to lunch, water, restrooms, and activities until the end of the regular school day or parents can pick them up early.
“We did a great job today of managing two crises in a short period of time,” said Superintendent Matt Malone.