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Watermain rupture displaces Burnaby residents, shuts down businesses

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A watermain break is causing a massive headache for hundreds of residents living in two condo towers in the Brentwood neighbourhood.

Shoolin Saini was in his condo when he heard a loud noise, prompting him to go downstairs to investigate where he saw a few other residents who were alerted to the commotion.

“The floor was absolutely shaking -- really violently -- almost like there was an earthquake happening right at the front door,” he said.

The rupture happened early Monday morning, impacting Tandem A and Tandem B, buildings at the corner of Dawson Street and Gilmore Avenue which have more than 800 combined units.

When the residents went down to the parkade, they were shocked by how the parking lot had turned into a lake, with water reaching the hood of some vehicles.

“I think the biggest danger was just the water because it was flooding the cars and there was an electrical room, I think, nearby too. So the biggest hazard was just water being near electric,” Saini said.

Property management group Stratawest Management said plumbers and restoration crews have been pumping water out of the building but the work was difficult due to the presence of oil.

Water has been emptied out of the elevator shafts but when the elevators will be operational is unclear.

Since there’s no running water and no working elevators, residents have been told to find accommodation elsewhere in the meantime.

But some have decided to stick it out.

“For us, we have to walk up 20 flights of stairs, so it’s a bit much – forced exercise. We don’t have any water, no toilet, no anything,” said resident Kelly Hubert. “It’s more inconvenient, I would say, for elderly people in the building or people with children.”

Some businesses on the ground floor of the building have also been forced to close.

Saini said if he and the few others didn’t happen to notice something was wrong, the rupture could’ve flooded more than the parkade.

“There was no actual alarm system going off. I would like to see either a shutoff valve or some sort of alarm,” he said. “We just got lucky here because we were awake, otherwise this could have been a lot worse.”

Stratawest told CTV News that may be something the strata council looks into in the future. But for now, the focus is on the repair and remediation work.

There's no estimate for when people may be able to return home, and the cause of the rupture is under investigation.

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