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La Grande Fire Department firefighter Misty Carreiro squeegees water out of the Dustmanís Attic thrift store at the La Grande Town Center Sunday morning. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
Dustman’s Attic Thrift Store had just opened its doors before noon Sunday when a drip started falling from its sprinkler system.
Within about five minutes, buckets were not enough to keep the water contained.
The store, located in the La Grande Town Center, filled quickly with water.
“This was supposed to be our last week (in this location),” said Nancy Binos, owner of Dustman’s Attic. “Unfortunately, this thing happened so we’re closed.”
La Grande Fire Department responded to the flooding, which spread across several businesses in the building. Fire Chief Bruce Weimer said it appeared that a section of the fire sprinkler pipes in Dustman’s Attic froze and split apart.
“There’s a lot of pressure behind the water, so in a short period of time we had quite a bit of water standing in the store the break originated in,” Weimer said. “Then it actually started seeping underneath the walls to other stores.”
Weimer said there was as much as an inch of standing water in some places.
“It’s not uncommon to have this happen,” he said. “It’s an argument developers use to avoid putting in sprinkler systems, but it happens so rarely that the benefit of having a system far outweighs the potential of having something like this happens.”
La Grande Rural Fire Department also responded to the scene. Weimer said a commercial carpet cleaning business arrived to help pick up water.
“They were able to really start picking the water up,” he said.
Neighboring retailer Bealls remained open through the ordeal. The store took on some water under a wall adjacent to Dustman’s Attic. Though the store opened as normal Monday morning, fans were still running until everything is dry. Capelli Hair Salon also received some damage.
Binos, the Dustman’s Attic owner, said she is glad she was there to attempt to salvage some merchandise.
“Actually there were customers in the store,” she said. “At least we know where it came from because we were here. We saw it.”
Weimer said one way to avoid scenarios like these is to make sure the heat is on to keep the pipes from freezing. Binos said she leaves the heat on, even when they are not in the store.
“So I don’t know what happened,” the owner said.
Binos said they have insurance to help cover the cost of damaged merchandise. She is looking for a new location to reopen the business.
“I hope people won’t have the impression that we’re closed forever,” she said.
La Grande Town Center is owned by Phillips Edison & Company. A call to the company was not immediately returned.