Brain Head Loses Power 18.5 Hours, Lifts Closed, Pipes freeze

From Tuesday 2/2/11 6:00 p.m. to Wednesday 2/3/11 1:30 p.m. Brain Head was without power.  Temperatures were down to minus 20 over night.  The resort closed the lifts and residents and visitors crowded around fire places to stay warm.  Many went to the Grand Lodge to stay warm, play pool and get warm food.

According to the Town Manager this was a regular event 10 years ago before Rocky Mountain Power upgraded the power distribution system that feeds Brian Head.  Such upgrades included backup transformers and auto-sensing switching equipment.

The town was on 24 hour alert for frozen pipes which can lean to water leaks and damage when they thaw.  In a highly organized manner the public works department combed the city using electronic meter reading equipment to look for unusual flow rates.  From the Marshals office to every city employee, EVERYONE was on high alert.

Once power was restored many reported lack of water flow.  On Thursday 2/3/11 Copper Chase condominium reported a major water leak. Property managers reported that a single unit’s main water feed ruptured, flooding a total of 3 units with water ankle high.  TNT,  Inc. out of Cedar City was immediately called in and arrived on scene within an hour.  With an initial crew of 6 TNT shut down electricity to affected units, and brought in emergency generators.  With the emergency generators in place, TNT deployed water pumps, and started the process of removing all standing water.  At the same time TNT’s crew started removing all furniture from the affected units (condos).  Copper Chase management set up a cordoned area in the heated 42 car garage to store the furniture.

Troy Bailey, the owner of TNT said “it’s a lot of water, but we are on it, this is what we do”.  When asked how long it will take to dry out the units, Troy said “it will take my crew about 24 hours working around the clock to remove all standing water and complete the process of exposing and venting all areas”.  Using sophisticated infrared temperature monitoring equipment, fans and heaters heaters TNT’s crew is systematically removing first standing water, then water soaked into the walls, flooring and structure.

When asked how prepared TNT is for such emergencies Troy said “this is what we do, our team is ready 24/7 to respond to such emergencies. We have the personnel on call, and the equipment staged and ready to roll”.

One could not help but be impressed as they observed TNT in action.  Upon arriving on site, digital photos were taken and the crew started documenting what they found.  As more crew members arrived, they went immediately to work.  Procedures were implemented and everyone seemed to know exactly what they were doing.  It was very impressive to see such a well orchestrated and coordinated  response in place so quickly.  Residents and guests at Copper Chase had minimal inconvenience and many could be seen “hanging out” and watching the TNT crew in action.

We even noted the spouses and family members of some of TNT employees arriving with still more equipment as well as food to keep the crew going.  When asked how they can operate throughout the night Troy said “we work in shifts, and each crew member gets about 3 hours of sleep before getting back on the job.  We have arranged accommodations at Copper Chase and will remain on site until damage mitigation is complete.”

As a side note:  Questar Gas reported a record volume of natural gas was consumed by it’s Utah customers on Thursday (2-3-11) due to the cold front.

Reported by Jaclyn Kraft, Intern (Southern Utah University)