Frozen pipes cause evacuation of Wick Tower Suites

By William K. Alcorn


Residents spent their second night Wednesday in local hotels while frozen pipes in their upscale Wick Tower Suites apartments in downtown Youngstown are repaired to the satisfaction of the Youngstown Fire Department.

Developer Dominic Marchionda, whose NYO Group owns the building, said he expects tenants to be back in their apartments by Friday.

Fire Chief John J. O’Neill said it was necessary to evacuate an undetermined number of residents Tuesday from the 49 apartments because the frozen pipes incapacitated the building’s sprinkler system and interior standpipes to which firefighters attach their hoses for fighting fires on upper floors.

The frozen water caused the pipes to burst up through the third floor of the apartment complex at 34 W. Federal St.

O’Neill said the department first was notified of the problem about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday by the fire suppression company when just one pipe had burst. However, the company called again about 7:30 p.m. to notify the fire department that the system was frozen from the basement to the third floor of the 13-story structure, the chief said.

O’Neill said a subcontractor working on the Wick Tower Suites’ first-floor restaurant had ripped out large windows and covered the holes with plywood, but without insulation.

“It was pretty irresponsible of a lot of people,” O’Neill said.

With sub-freezing temperatures the past few days, it was as cold inside as it was outside, the fire chief said.

Until repairs are completed, the fire department is allowing people into their apartments in the mornings to get belongings beginning today, he said, but they can’t stay until the system is inspected and determined safe.

“For the most part, tenants have been cooperative. They have either found places to stay with friends or family or situated in local hotels or motels. We made sure they were accommodated. All 49 apartments are occupied, about half with Youngstown State University students, and we expect to be back in business as usual very soon,” Marchionda said.

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