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Frozen pipes spell trouble for Bernard's

The last thing a business wants to deal with when temperatures turn frigid is water.

But Bernard's Northtown employees were faced with that difficult task Sunday when the dealership's alarm company reported a potential problem to the New Richmond Fire Department.

When crews arrived on the scene at around 6 p.m., the showroom was filled with several inches of water.

Turns out the building's sprinkler system, which is above the suspended ceiling, froze as temperatures outside dipped well below zero.

The leak started as a couple drips, but eventually the pipes burst and water spilled everywhere, according to Sales Manager Mike Montello.

Fire Chief Jim VanderWyst estimated that thousands of gallons of water were pooled on the showroom floor.

"It was quite a mess," he said. "We stayed and helped them bail out the water."

The water was pushed out Bernard's doors and it quickly froze in a pool nearby.

Tile flooring, some carpeting, furniture and several computers were damaged in the water pipe incident.

"All things considered, the damage could have been a lot worse," Montello said.

Because employees showed up to help out, and firefighters worked quickly to clean up the mess, no permanent problems will result, he said. The City's Street Department also helped out.

"The Fire Department was awesome," Montello said. "And one of the advantages of living in a small town ... we were able to call Pat Doyle at home and he opened up Farm & Home for us. We were able to get the supplies we needed to clean up. You can't measure what that's worth."

Bernard's was open for business as usual on Monday, despite the water problems.

"It's dry in here today," Montello said Monday. "It will take us a couple days to get things back to normal, but we haven't missed a beat as far as the business goes."