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Burton Barr Library Closed Till Next Summer

View of damaged roof at Burton Barr Library in Phoenix.
City of Phoenix and Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc.
file | staff
View of damaged roof at Burton Barr Library in Phoenix.

Phoenix’s Burton Barr Library won’t be reopening till next summer. That comes after a pipe burst last month, causing major damage to the building.

This is what the city believes happened: a monsoon in July dislodged tiles from the library roof. That pushed dust into the building, creating the appearance of smoke and triggering the fire alarms. A corroded pipe burst connected to the sprinkler system and caused water to pour in the building.

City Manager Ed Zuercher said there had been reports of the faulty pipes, but top officials never saw them. “We’re going to find out how this could happen. Fix the building to be better than ever for public use by next summer,” he said.

With insurance, Zuercher said the city can afford the estimated repair costs, between $6 million and $8 million. In the meantime, they’ll move services to other branches and investigate why something wasn’t done about the pipes sooner.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to clarify what triggered the fire alarms.

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.