Tempe high-rise evacuated after burst pipe, electrical damage

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Arizona State University student Mike Geraghty capped off graduation week with an unexpected apartment evacuation.

“It’s definitely been a hectic week," he said. "I’ve had people trying to stay with me."

Instead, he and his family are staying in hotels. Geraghty lives in one of the more than 150 units affected, 22 floors within tower one of West Sixth. Tempe fire says a fire sprinkler pipe burst Wednesday morning, causing water damage to the building’s electrical system.

As a result power remains out to much of the building, according to firefighters. The Tempe fire inspector, electrical engineers and various crews worked all day Thursday to troubleshoot and repair the problem.

“They’re working to provide a temporary fix, reroute power temporarily to get power back to floors with the long-term plan of replacing the damaged circuitry,” Fire Inspector Phil Rohe said.

Rohe says it’s unknown what caused the initial pipe problem and unknown when residents will be allowed to return home to stay.

“I’m homeless tonight, for both tonight and likely tomorrow night,” W6 resident Kevin Willert said.

The management company has offered to pay for hotel stays through the weekend. Residents say apartment managers are taking appointments to briefly allow people in the building to pack what they can.

“I was hoping to be able to get to my place to get some essentials, toothbrush, stuff like that, but I guess that’s not going to happen,” Willert said. “It’s quite the inconvenience for me and everyone else who lives in the building.”

Willert says he’s just thankful his apartment didn’t suffer water damage. Neither did Geraghty’s. He sympathizes with his neighbors on the eighth floor who weren’t so lucky.

“I’m happy I’m on the 17th floor, and not the eighth. I heard it’s all covered in mud,” Geraghty said.

Multiple residents tell 3TV the bulk of the water damage occurred on the eighth and seventh floor. One resident sent 3TV video that showed water leaking from the ceiling of the gym and a puddle of water on the floor.

Managers on property declined to talk to 3TV. However in a new statement issued  Friday West Sixth management said:

“West 6th Tempe is working hand in hand with City of Tempe police and fire departments to resolve the issues as quickly as possible. Electrical repairs are underway to rectify the electrical and water damage that occurred due to the water pipe burst. Management has made arrangements for hotel accommodations and is also providing daily food stipends for all residents of Tower 1 through Monday. However, electricity is expected to be restored to the upper floors, and residents are projected to move back into their apartments this weekend. 

West 6th Tempe is dedicated to the safety and security of their residents. To ensure the building’s safety, Tempe’s Building Safety Division will inspect and certify the building prior to residents’ return home.”