KEARNEY — A broken fire sprinkler line Thursday has caused millions of dollars in damage to equipment in Bruner Hall at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
A sprinkler line on the east side of the fourth floor of the building caused damage to every floor of the building. There are more than 150 classes and offices in the building, and almost every room experienced some kind of damage.
The building experienced damage to ceiling tiles, floors and drywall, but there was no significant structural damage. The damage to equipment is the most significant, said Todd Gottula, a UNK spokesperson.
“No doubt there is millions of dollars in damage to equipment that needs to be replaced,” he said. “It’s really the worst building this could have happened to in terms of equipment damage because thats where all your high-end research equipment is.”
There will be an assessment by an insurance company Wednesday to estimate damages. Gottula expects certain parts of the building may take weeks or months to be usable again.
Most of this week’s classes at Bruner Hall will be going fully remote, but there will be a handful of classrooms on the north side of the building that will have in-person classes.
Last week’s bitter cold caused pipe and sprinkler issues in eight buildings at UNK resulting in water damage, Gottula said, but none to the extent of Bruner Hall.
“It was not negligence. It was just so cold last week, and they can only withstand so much cold,” he added. “The infrastructure to pipes and sprinklers can only handle so much cold no matter what we do.”
In order to help dry out Bruner Hall, the interior temperature has been turned up to 90 degrees. Staff members had to carefully calculate a temperature that is safe for the animals living in the building as well as chemicals that are stored there.
Bruner Hall was built in 1966. It underwent a renovation in 2004, and a renovation and addition was completed in 2009.
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