Several people were temporarily forced into the cold after a sprinkler malfunctioned at an apartment building on West Main Street in Ansonia Monday morning.
Ansonia firefighters, police, and EMS responded to a possible fire at the 5-story building about 9:35 a.m.
Ansonia Fire Department Assistant Chief Michael Eheman said a large amount of steam was visible pouring out the entrance to the building. Firefighters initially thought the building was burning.
Luckily, it appeared to be a water pipe problem with a sprinkler head just inside the building’s entrance. Eheman suspected the temperature caused the sprinkler to freeze.
Firefighters were able to get the sprinkler shut off, but not before water entered a few first-floor apartments, Eheman said.
About 100 people live there.
The extent of the damage wasn’t clear at 10 a.m., as the building’s maintenance staff were just starting to survey the scene.
Several first-floor tenants were waiting outside while firefighters laid down sand on the sidewalk and parking lot to combat ice formed from the freezing water.
The temperature Monday morning was 21 degrees, relatively warm compared to the arctic temps that have been plaguing the region for two weeks.
Eheman said the West Main Street call was the third or fourth cold weather related call of the day.
With the temperature expected to rise into the low 40s later this week, Eheman said based in his experience the department will be called to more water leaks from frozen pipes.
“Usually the breaks don’t show until we start to thaw out, so I think it’s going to increase this week,” he said.