YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Dozens were evacuated from their Wick Tower apartments in downtown Youngstown after the building’s water pipes burst. Firefighters say it happened because some contractors left a job unfinished.
On Tuesday, the building’s pipes froze and burst, preventing the fire department from accessing water.
“Completely inoperable,” Fire Chief John O’Neill said. “We had no fire protection for the entire building.”
When firefighters arrived, there was no heat on the first floor.
“Very, very cold. I mean, it was the temperature of outside,” O’Neill said.
That froze the piping all the way to the second floor.
“The two-fold problem is you don’t have a sprinkler system to keep it in check and minimize the fire,” O’Neill said. “We have no ability to fight the fire because we can’t get the water to the upper floors.”
The Youngstown Fire Department decided its only choice was to evacuate the entire building, which houses nearly 50 apartments in its 13 stories.
While it’s unclear how long the fix will take, O’Neill said contractors caused the problem by tearing large windows out of a first-floor wall and never insulating it.
WKBN reached out to the building’s owner but never heard back.