A Yale student broke a sprinkler pipe at Toad’s Place club early Tuesday morning, flooding the club with water and prompting an evacuation that started a fight as a horde of Yale students spilled out onto York Street.
Just after 1 a.m. a student jumped from the stage and grabbed on to one of the sprinkler pipes above the main dance floor, Toad’s owner Brian Phelps said. The metal bar fell into the crowd below, striking several people and releasing a plume of steam, six eyewitnesses told the News. Less than 30 seconds after the pipe was dislodged, the club’s sprinkler system went off, flooding the room and sending an alert to the New Haven Fire Department, said Lt. Mark Vendetto, the commanding NHFD officer on the scene. No serious injuries were reported, Phelps said, but several students reported to the News that they saw the pipe strike people on the dance floor.
“I was just trying to dance and a bar fell on my head,” Jamie Biondi ’12 said outside the club as he rubbed the sore spot just after the incident.
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Biondi told the News that he was not hurt — although another student asked firefighters to check him out.
This incident could not have occurred until recently; Toad’s had exposed the piping that the student broke by removing a ceiling crawlspace, Phelps said, adding that he had thought the sprinklers were out of reach.
“I guess not far enough,” he said. “I don’t know what the hell he was thinking,” he said of the student who caused the flooding.
Although Toad’s had evacuated before the fire department arrived on York Street, a fight broke out on the west side of the road due to the large crowds. Police intervened to quell the clamor, New Haven Police Department Sgt. Chris Rubino said at the scene.
Police only made one arrest during the fight, but commanded that the large crowd disperse: One officer on a megaphone demanded that pedestrians leave the sidewalk, and others guided students away from the corner of York and Broadway.
Once crowds dissipated, at least 10 members of Toad’s staff began pushing water from the flooded club out onto the street — by the time the sprinklers turned off, nearly an inch of water had pooled on the floor. As plastic cups and hoop earrings floated on the water pouring out of the club’s front door, Toad’s staff surveyed the damage.
“Check out how wet it is,” one staff member, lifting up the wood flooring on the stage. “It’s completely saturated.”
Phelps said that cleanup took over three hours for the staff and that the sprinkler system had already been repaired by Wednesday afternoon. The club will also be adjusting the corner of the stage so that no one will be able to reach the still-exposed sprinkler system again.
Monday night’s Toad’s Place dance party was only open to Yale students and their guests.