Grand hotel evacuates guests after water leak

'Grand Finale' banquet unaffected by incident

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— A water leak that led to the evacuation of about 100 guests from their rooms at the Steamboat Grand Hotel early Friday morning won't have any effect on tonight's Centennial Grand Finale awards banquet, hotel officials said.

Except for a few cases, the water leak wasn't the direct cause for the evacuation of most of the guests. Instead, it was a fire alarm that was triggered by the water.

"We had an early wake-up call; everybody was down in the lobby about 4:30 a.m.," hotel general manager Terry Murphy said. "Unfortunately, there was some guest inconvenience. It was no big deal. About 15 rooms were out of commission. It's just one of those things."

Murphy said he expected the affected guest rooms to be back in service by today, and the evening's festivities in the ballroom won't be impacted.

Paul Berry, who served as construction manager for the hotel, said the hot water leak occurred in one condominium unit in the hotel, which opened Oct. 2 on Mount Werner Circle. The leak was not related to the plumbing that provides hot water for guests in that unit's bathroom and kitchen. Instead, the problem was in a soldered joint in a copper pipe that feeds a fan unit used to heat and cool room 357.

Berry said in his experience it's not unusual in a building the size of the Steamboat Grand to have some problems of the kind that led to the evacuation.

Berry said room 357 was unoccupied, so the thermostat in the room was set on low. That actually may have contributed to the fire alarm. Berry explained that when the hot water leaked into the room it created enough water vapor that it was sensed by the fire detectors. Those detectors are set to assume the sprinkler system has gone off when they sense moisture, thus triggering the alarm.

Berry said Steamboat Springs firefighters were helpful in isolating the source of the alarm and containing the water. Guests in neighboring rooms were alerted in time to safeguard their personal belongings from the wet carpet, Berry said.

Because the Steamboat Grand has concrete flooring, water damage to units immediately below on the second floor was minimal, Berry said, although a little water found its way to the second level through conduits.

Carpet was damaged in a half dozen rooms, Berry said.

Murphy said the only damage on the hotel's main level was confined to a single office. Professional carpet cleaners promptly extracted the leaked water from the carpeting.

Murphy said the fire alarm was the first experienced by the hotel and that is unusual at a new property, because typically there are a number of false alarms during the first month a new hotel is open.

The Centennial Grand Finale will combine dinner and entertainment with three awards programs to honor community and business achievement.

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