A ruptured water main on Johnston Road sent shards of glass and rocks flying Sunday afternoon.
At approximately 2:00 p.m., a water main in front of White Rock’s Coast Capital Playhouse (1532 Johnston Rd.) was being pressure tested when it unexpectedly ruptured, twice within a few hours.
The burst shot rocks towards the main entrance of the building, completely shattering one double-pane window and doing extensive damage to both glass doors.
Dann Wilhelm, who’s directing this year’s pantomime, said a group of about 20-25 actors were in the lobby rehearsing lines when the water main erupted.
At first, Wilhelm told Peace Arch News Monday, he thought it was a heavy rainstorm blowing against the lobby windows.
“It was like someone turned a fire hose against the window,” he said, adding that the clear water quickly turned brown once it started to pick up dirt and rocks.
“It was getting worse. The next thing we know, one of the windows broke and it started shooting through and poking holes… We didn’t even have to say anything, we just looked up and then as soon as it started coming through the windows, everybody just scattered.”
Wilhelm said the windows above the door “caved in” after about six seconds from when he noticed what was happening.
“A few people got pretty wet, nothing too terrible,” he said.
He said the group went back into the theatre to continue rehearsing and finished at about 6 p.m., when a second water main rupture occurred.
“As I go out into the lobby, it’s looking pretty good. The restoration did a great job they were just cleaning up the glass… I hear this crackling sound and I thought for a second that he had dropped the glass and it had shattered. I turn and I see more water spraying back in the open windows. It looked like every more water than before because it just flooded the floor,” Wilhelm said.
The second rupture, he said, “spider webbed” a window between the main door and concession.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before, it was just wild. It happened so fast,” Wilhelm said.
In an emailed statement to PAN Monday, the city’s director of engineering and operations Jim Gordon said that both ruptures were caused by pressure testing.
“A subcontractor to Canadian Landscape and Construction Services (CLCS) was pressure testing the new water main in Johnston Road in advance of a finalized test this week when a fitting blew off. A second similar incident occurred a few hours later,” Gordon said in an emailed statement.
“CLCS has contacted Worksafe BC and is investigating these serious incidents. White Rock’s contract inspectors are also investigating whether the cause is related to defective parts or installation.”
Water soaked much of the carpet near the main entrance, and paint was chipped four-metres high on the back wall, which is approximately four-metres from the entrance doors.
Nobody was injured.
Gordon said in the statement that the new water main is not yet connected to the city system and will not be connected until it passes a formal pressure test, bacteriological test and final inspection.
City contractors are currently working on Johnston Road, from North Bluff Road to Russell Avenue, for the city’s Johnston Road streetscape project.
The stretch of roadway has been closed since Sept. 10, the city said the road will be reopened to traffic Sept. 21. However, a sign advising of the construction said the road will remain closed until Sept. 22.