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Water pipe break damages some Holiday Center stores in downtown Duluth

A worker moves a piece of furniture out of the former Z's Deli space in the Holiday Center Wednesday after a water line broke and flooded the area. (Steve Kuchera / / 2
Using squeegees and a portable pump, Duluth firefighters clean up water in the Holiday Center on Wednesday evening. (Steve Kuchera / / 2

Thawing pipes burst in the Holiday Center in downtown Duluth late Wednesday afternoon, flooding several stores on the skywalk level and causing water to pour down into the store below.

Affected were the former Z's Deli and Schlotzsky's Deli, Tortoise & Hare Footwear and the Hallmark store on the skywalk level and Brownie Furniture on the Superior Street level.

Duluth firefighters were called to the scene at 5:11 p.m. and found water pouring into the Z's space, spreading into surrounding areas and into Brownie Furniture below. After the water was turned off, firefighters went to work, pumping and mopping up the standing water until about 6:30 p.m. when Holiday Inn staff took over the cleanup in force.

A damage estimate wasn't available Wednesday night, but both the property owner and the individual stores carry insurance, said Barb Perrella, Holiday Center's property manager.

All stores are expected to re-open today, she said.

The incident began shortly after 5 p.m., when three pipes in the back of the Z's Deli space, ranging from one-half to 1 inch in diameter, started to split and break when they began to thaw, releasing a lot of water, Deputy Fire Chief Bryan Bushey said.

It happened in an area of the mall that had lost heat earlier, he said.

"It's just one of those things that happens in this cold weather," Perrella said. "You just never know. It's heartbreaking."

The flooding of the former Z's Deli space threatened the new Holiday Inn & Suites furniture that was being stored there in boxes and wrapped in plastic. As the firefighters completed their cleanup, Holiday Inn staff hurriedly moved the furniture to dry space down the hall.

"We'll continue the clean-up, drying everything out, Perrella said.

Downstairs, a large barrel by the front door of Brownie Furniture was collecting water still dripping from the floor above. Holiday Inn staff vacuumed up water from several spots where it seeped through the ceiling in the rear of the store.

Easy chairs and other furniture had been moved out of the way of the dripping water.

"It's contained to part of the store," Perrella said of the water damage. "They will be open for business tomorrow (Thursday)."