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TORRINGTON >> Cast members were rushed from the Warner Theatre Sunday night while they were rehearsing for upcoming performances of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” after a sprinkler system pipe, frozen by the frigid temperatures during the past week, burst and began flooding an interior area between the main stage theater and the smaller Nancy Marine Studio Theater next door.
The broken pipe flooded an interior section of the building between those two performance spaces, but no fire occurred, no one was injured, and a quick response by firefighters and the theater’s sprinkler system company avoided a serious situation, according to fire officials at the scene.
Torrington firefighters rushed to the Warner Theatre at about 9:15 p.m. after receiving a call of “water flowing and an odor of smoke” in the vintage theater building. Fortunately, the emergency was a burst sprinkler pipe, not a fire.
“We got the call and I said ‘Oh no, not the Warner,’” said Torrington Fire Department Captain David Starr. “We haven’t had a bad fire in about nine months, so we’re due for one ... we don’t want one, but it’s been a while. We were so relieved when we got there and there was no fire.”
Starr said the initial response to the scene included a rescue truck, a ladder truck and several engines. “We didn’t know what we needed ... we were also assisting Campion (EMTs) with a cardiac arrest call, so it was a little bit hectic,” Starr said.
The sprinkler pipe froze sometime during the previous week, Starr estimated.
“Then it just blew,” he said. “The water was flowing in and they (the rehearsing cast members) had to get out of there quick. There’s a little alley area between the two theaters and that’s where that pipe is.”
The fire department captain said the theater’s sprinkler system company arrived within 20 minutes to handle the necessary repairs to the pipe. “The sprinkler company gave an excellent response,” he said.
Meanwhile, firefighters and Warner staff got busy vacuuming up as much water as they could from the carpeted area where the pipe burst.
“They wanted to get that cleaned up as quickly as they could, so we were helping them,” Starr said. “The cold cracked that pipe, and the water was flowing pretty fast.”
During the winter months, chimney fires and other types of heat-related fires are unfortunate but common, keeping firefighters in a constant state of alert.
“We’re always glad when it wasn’t a fire, but especially because it was the Warner,” Starr said. “We don’t want a fire there.”
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