Sprinkler system left running for hours at NHCC with no one knowing

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The doors are locked and the signs say closed for business due to facility issues. When the National Hispanic Cultural Center will reopen is still unclear. 

“In the early morning hours of Sunday there was a small fire in a room of the center of the performing arts building,” said Debra Garcia y Griego.  

She’s the Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. She said that the fire started on the administrative side of the building and led to a massive flood.

“The fire suppression system activated and did an outstanding job of containing and extinguishing the fire. However, there was a lag time between the sprinklers going off and the time they were turned off,” said Garcia y Griego. 

She said the sprinklers were running for hours, soaking the popular Roy E. Disney Center for Performing Arts, which is used for many local events.

“That has caused water damage in the facility on both the second floor where the fire started and the first floor,” said Garcia y Griego. 

Albuquerque Fire Rescue says the fire started around 4:00 in the morning, but they weren’t called out until sometime after 8:00 on Sunday morning. 

A spokesperson said the fire had long been out, but there was water everywhere, and some areas were burned. As for how much of the building is damaged, that’s still unclear. 

“The primary area impacted is the administrative side of the building. However, we are still in the process of exploring the scope of the damage,” said Garcia y Griego.  

The Philharmonic canceled their performance on Sunday, and other groups have announced a change in venue. 

AFR said when a sprinkler system goes off, they’re supposed to be alerted to respond to the location. A spokesperson said they didn’t want to speculate as to why they were not alerted, but they say the fire marshal will work with them to ensure they are alerted in the future. 

The National Hispanic Cultural Center wouldn’t let KRQE News 13 cameras inside to get a look at the damage. For now, performances have been canceled through the week. 

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