Suspects cause flooding at Kirtland school
KIRTLAND — Hallways, classrooms and the cafeteria inside Kirtland Elementary School were full of commercial air dryers Thursday afternoon as workers tried to contain the damage done by suspects accused of breaking a water pipe on the roof and flooding portions of the school last week.
Detectives for the San Juan County Sheriff's Office are investigating an incident at the elementary school which took place overnight on Sept. 7-8, according to Candice Thompson, the construction and facility coordinator for the Central Consolidated School District.
The Sheriff's Office does not have any suspects and is continuing its investigation of the case, according to Detective Lt. Kyle Lincoln.
Thompson believes the suspects climbed onto an exterior freezer on the east side of the building and climbed onto a portion of the roof above the cafeteria kitchen.
While trying to climb onto another portion of the roof, the suspects tried to step on a water pipe attached to an industrial air washer and broke it in the process, according to Thompson.
She added the suspects might have gotten frustrated because they bent the pipe and worked it back and forth until it broke under the roof deck.
Employees arriving at the school on Sept. 8 found the rushing water and notified the CCSD central office, according to Principal Melissa Roberts.
Employees across the district showed up to help handle the flooding.
The water entered the school running down a wall in the hallway east of the cafeteria. It also caused ceiling damage to an electrical room.
An electrical room, three classrooms and the cafeteria were flooded with water, which reached out to the base of the statue of the school's mascot, the unicorn, in the lobby.
Classes in the music room and a kindergarten classroom were relocated to another part of the building.
Students arriving at school on Sept. 8 had an extra hour of recess as employees worked to prepare the building for students, according to Roberts.
"The only impact that we had was we had to serve breakfast out in the lobby on Friday," Roberts said.
A remediation company has been working at the elementary school since Saturday, trying to dry the walls, floors and carpets in the southeast portion of the school.
"All tests have indicated normal levels for air quality," Roberts said.
CCSD officials are evaluating what work needs to be performed on the building's drywall, vinyl flooring tiles, carpet and painting.
Lincoln cited a figure of about $20,000 in estimated damage but Thompson said the district has not finalized the cost of the damage.
Reading materials in two kindergarten classrooms were damaged, along with a box of audio equipment stored in a closet in one of the classrooms.
The water that entered the ceiling of the electrical room nearly destroyed electrical panels that help run the school.
Dehumidifiers were used to remove the moisture from the equipment, and fans were put in place to dry the room out.
Thompson hopes someone in the community who has information related to the incident will report it to law enforcement.
"It affects our little kids. These are kindergarten kids," Thompson said. "It affects them because we are disrupting their environment."
She expects repairs to be performed throughout the fall semester with some of the work to be completed during winter break.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call nonemergency dispatch at 505-334-6622.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.