Property managers cleaning up after fire sprinkler goes off

Matt Stensland

— Christmas Day quickly turned a little less merry when a fire sprinkler head broke inside a Trailhead Lodge condo unit in Steamboat Springs.

Shortly before 7 p.m., Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters were called to the lodge because a fire sprinkler was going off.

“The guests were in the room when it happened,” Fire Chief Mel Stewart said.

Once it was determined there was no fire, the sprinkler was turned off, but some damage had been done.

Stewart said the sprinkler was on for about 10 minutes, spraying water at a rate of about 17 or 18 gallons per minute.

From the fifth floor unit, water leaked into three other units on the second, third and fourth floors.

What caused the sprinkler head to go off was not totally clear Friday. Sgt. Rich Brown, with the Steamboat Springs Police Department, said an officer who responded to the incident was told something had been hanging on the sprinkler, like a Christmas decoration.

Firefighters were at the lodge for about an hour and helped with the cleanup. Stewart said there was about a half-inch of water in the fifth-floor unit. Firefighters removed a toilet and used squeegees to push the water into the drain.

Stewart said the lodge was able to relocate the guests, but more work needed to be done before the units could be used again.

“They might be able to get in there today,” Stewart said Friday.

Stewart explained that sprinkler heads work with a glass bulb that acts as a trigger.

Exposure to heat makes the bulb expand, which causes it to break and allows water to flow through the sprinkler head. The glass also can be broken in other ways. Stewart said a sprinkler once went off at a Steamboat hotel because it got hit with skis.

“You don’t want to do anything to the sprinkler head,” Stewart said.

The incident at the lodge, which is managed by Wyndham Vacation Resorts, coincides with a very busy vacation rental season in Steamboat.

Wyndham officials were not immediately available to comment.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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