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April 07. 2013 8:39PM

UNH: Corrosion caused pipe failure that burned 3 students

DURHAM - Officials at the University of New Hampshire have determined that a hot water pipe failure outside Hunter Hall on Saturday, that severely burned the feet of three female students, was the result of corrosion to the pipe that took place over a potentially extended period of time.

The three female students who suffered the burns while evacuating the building, whose identities have not been released by school officials, remain hospitalized in Massachusetts.

Two of the students were initially taken to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, while the third was first taken to Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

All three were later transferred to Boston hospitals with what were believed to be third-degree burns, according to Erika Mantz, director of UNH media relations.

Mantz could not provide an update on their condition Sunday night.

Mantz said the pipe that delivers hot water to the building for the heating system is located under a pipe that delivers hot water for sinks and showers.

Mantz said school officials believe the top pipe, which is several decades old, had been slowly leaking for an undetermined amount of time, continuously spraying hot water on the second larger and newer pipe, corroding the exterior and causing premature failure.

Maintenance crews repaired the two hot water pipes leading into the building Sunday and heat was returned to Hunter, Gibbs and Engelhardt halls, known as the lower quad, shortly after 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

According to Mantz, the water damaged a small section of the first-floor hallway and four rooms. Students were not allowed back into Hunter Hall until about 6 p.m. Saturday.

Engelhardt Hall, located nearby, was briefly evacuated during the incident, but students were allowed back inside within 15 minutes.

Mantz said UNH administrators are in contact with the families of the three students and will provide whatever assistance they need during their recovery.

pfeely@unionleader.com


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