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Water main break leaves Bradford, Pa., dry

Bradford, Pa., has lost nearly all its water after a 24-inch water main broke late Monday, according to city officials there.

The 24-inch water main ruptured Monday night, becoming evident as pools of water began to rise from the ground on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

“Right now, the water situation is critical,” said Fire Chief Richard Zmuda.

More than 5 million gallons of water was lost in a 24-hour period, Zmuda said. Bradford has a population of 9,100 residents.

“Basically, our system is currently dry,” Zmuda said Tuesday afternoon.

The city declared a state of emergency and the campus has been shut down for at least the rest of the week, said Bradford Fire Capt. J.D. Tehle.

“They have a lot of flooding out there. They’re sending the kids home,” Tehle added.

Tehle said both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency are aware of the situation.

“FEMA is bringing in, I want to say, 17 truckloads of drinking water. This is going to be a prolonged operation. They’re thinking at least a week.” said Tehle.

The main broke Monday night. “All I know is it was a big one, a 24-inch main,” Tehle said.

Tehle said the cause of the water main rupture was still unknown Tuesday.

According to the school’s website, all classes have been canceled and the campus will be closed through at least Monday. Students who are able are being encouraged to travel home. In addition, those whose parents are able to come get them are being urged to do so.

For those students who choose to or have no other choice but to remain on campus, the university is providing bottled drinking water. The website also notes that buckets are available to use as a means to flush toilets in the Commons on campus. The website also promised that portable toilets would soon be available on campus for those students who remain. The university will be operating with minimal staffing in the meantime.

“All of our schools are closed, at least for today they were, and I’m sure they’re going to be closed (Wednesday),” Tehle added.

Bradford, located in McKean County, Pa., is just over the state line and west of Olean in Cattaraugus County, which is about 75 miles south of Buffalo.