Sunday, August 31, 2014 · 2:28 a.m.
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The 6-by-6 hole above the bar after a sprinkler system thawed and burst Wednesday. (Photo: Staff)

Employees were busy Wednesday night cleaning water and debris from the interior of Pickle Barrel after a thawing sprinkler system burst.

There were no injuries reported, though extensive structural damage and flooding occurred.

Owner Nick Bowers was assessing the damage at about 6 p.m., along with several employees. He said the culprit was a 2-inch line that feeds into the sprinkler system that burst while thawing.

"All of the water gushed out and brought the ceiling down," he said. "There were people eating, and everybody had to get out. And that was it."

Bowers said a similar issue occurred 25 years ago at the restaurant but that it wasn’t nearly as extensive. And despite the incident, Bowers was in good spirits.

"We’ll do some cleanup and then have the sprinkler system repaired and put the ceiling back up and have somebody come up and blow insulation back in there," he said. "We’ll be back."

Capt. Scott McCullough with the Chattanooga Fire Department said crews were on hand since about 3 p.m. attempting to shut off water at the 1012 Market St. building.

"Basically, they had a sprinkler pipe up in the ceiling, and once it thawed out, it exploded," he said. "The coupling and the whole sprinkler head just dropped off. It just fell through where the sprinkler head came through, and the water just pushed it out."

A 6-by-6 hole was visible above the bar area inside.

The building, formerly the Plaza Hotel, is owned by attorney Arvin H. Reingold.

A statement from Pickle Barrel general manager Ben Bowers via Facebook:

The Pickle is OK. The sprinkler system for the whole building/block froze then blew. Just a lot of water. Part of the ceiling fell in but nothing too major, just a big damn mess. No one was hurt, and that's what counts. Thanks for all the concern. Like I said before, this is the year of the Pickle, [and] we'll be back open in a week or less.

Insulation and an inch of water flooded the entire bottom floor of the restaurant. (Photo: Staff)
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