DOUGLAS — Residents of a building in the Prairie Shores Apartments complex suffered through intermittent heat Monday and Tuesday after the heating system malfunctioned and pipes burst.
“It was cold — it was negative 6 degrees outside,” George Cramer, who has lived in the building for more than 10 years, said Tuesday as he cranked up his space heater to stay warm. “I didn’t have to wear a coat, but I had to keep my street clothes on.”
On Tuesday night, at least 30 residents chose to stay at a hotel because the heat was still not on consistently.
At 7 p.m. Monday, a component failed in the steam system of the building at 2801 S. Martin Luther King Drive, cutting off heat to the building for several hours, according to a letter to residents from building owner Draper and Kramer.
When crews drained the steam pipes to fix the problem, residual moisture in the system froze, and about five pipes in the building burst, said Julie Johnson, vice president of D.K. Living for Draper and Kramer.
“We were worried we were going to have to evacuate the building, but we were able to direct heat to the lower floors,” Johnson said. The building has 302 occupied apartments, she said.
Residents said they had to use space heaters and bundle up to stay warm Monday night as the heat periodically went off overnight and crews worked to identify problems.
“You had to wear a hoodie and long johns,” said James Carpenter, who lives in a three-bedroom apartment in the building. “I have a lot of windows, and it got cold.”
Johnson said on Tuesday night that crews continued to work to fix the problem, and the heat was consistently on for 15 of the 21 floors. About 100 apartments still were receiving heat only intermittently, according to Johnson.
Draper and Kramer is putting up residents in the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, 2233 S. Martin Luther King Drive, until the issue is resolved.
Johnson said the hope is that as temperatures rise in the coming days, the danger of pipes freezing passes and the heating system can be fixed for all units.