A Richmond woman has been charged in connection with the tampering of a sprinkler that resulted in the flooding of a downtown apartment building that displaced residents from 55 apartments.
Gloria M. Snead, 56, who lived in the building at 205 N. 4th Street, has been charged with felony destruction of property and misdemeanor violation of the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code.
The Richmond high rise was condemned, and residents are now without a home after a sprinkler head discharged and sent water gushing though the building Tuesday, January 15.
Investigators determined a sprinkler head located in a closet of an apartment on the eighth floor had been tampered with, causing the water damage. Fire officials said several sprinkler heads in the apartment were damaged and one had been completely broken.
The 11-story building was evacuated after a sprinkler head discharged in the closet of an eighth-floor apartment. Water then flowed for an expended period of time before crews were able to find the valve and stop the leak.
Due to extensive damage, the building was condemned. The Red Cross is assisting residents to 55 apartments who were displaced.
Many of the residents have special needs-some are blind, others are deaf and a few residents are wheelchair bound.
Residents tell 8News water started coming through the ceiling and the walls. Water made its way down to the first floor of the apartment and into the lobby.
Area churches offered coffee to the residents who had been evacuated into the cold and rainy conditions. GRTC allowed residents to stay warm and wait inside the busses.
A fire alarm activated, but officials say the alarm did not trigger due to an actual fire. No one was injured in the incident.
Red Cross volunteers, in coordination with the Richmond Department of Social Services have established a shelter at Fifth Street Baptist Church, located at 1415 West Cary Street.
"Our first priority is to ensure that the residents displaced have a warm and dry place to stay and food to eat," said Jonathan McNamara, regional director of donor and media relations for the Red Cross. "We are coordinating with Richmond Fire, VHDA and Social Services to develop a plan for housing moving forward and will communicate that plan with residents as soon as possible."
The Red Cross is working with the Greater Richmond Transit Authority to establish transportation for residents to the shelter. Shelter information will be posted at Grace Place Apartments and the Red Cross has activated its Emergency Operations Center to help coordinate response efforts.
Residents who have questions about the Red Cross response can contact (804) 343-2781.
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