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Tampered sprinkler head floods Whatcom Jail, admin offices (video)

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release today, July 18th, about an incident at the Whatcom County Jail that resulted in flooding the first floor of the jail and administration offices located below.

On Sunday, July 16 around 4:15 pm, Corrections Deputies were alerted to a louder-than-normal sound of water flowing in a shower room, where an inmate was showering. Immediately after hearing this sound, a large amount of water rushed underneath the door and the inmate started yelling to be let out. The inmate was removed and returned to a cell.

Corrections deputies quickly learned that the heavy water flow was from a sprinkler head that had been tampered with. The amount of water quickly overwhelmed the drains and flooded the entire first floor of the jail. Corrections Deputies, Sergeants and inmate workers pulled together to mitigate the water flow and guide it to drainage.

The water began seeping into the Sheriff’s Office administrative space, which is located below the jail. Large volumes of water penetrated portions of the Sheriff’s Office ceiling, causing significant damage to interview rooms, offices and electronic equipment. Corrections staff contacted Whatcom County Facilities Department, which maintains the jail facility.

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The Bellingham Fire Department was also contacted and was able to turn off the main water line approximately 15-20 minutes later. Flooding in the Sheriff’s Office administrative space from the jail is an ongoing concern. Over the years, broken pipes (including sewage pipes) and inmate vandalism have led to numerous flooding incidents.

Estimated damages from this flooding are currently over $5000 and growing. The inmate occupying the shower room at the time was 48-year-old Robert Ravencroft. Probable cause exists to charge Mr. Ravencroft with Malicious Mischief 1st. Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office (July 18, 2023)

At the time of the incident, Ravencroft was in custody at the Whatcom County Jail awaiting trial in Whatcom County Superior Court where he is charged with felony possession of a stolen vehicle.

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