The city of St. Louis now says they will be shutting off a steam line that runs under Kiener Plaza for the summer, after News 4 Investigates repeatedly tested temperatures at two manholes in the park.
Meanwhile, the toddler who was suffered second-degree burns after stepping on one of the manholes Sunday, has now been released from the hospital, but will require on-going treatment.
Monday, city officials told News 4 that a steam line under the park had sprung a leak, causing two manhole covers in the park to rise to temperatures well over 200 degrees. They said that the leak had been repaired and that the manholes would start to cool down.
However, News 4 Investigative Reporter Lauren Trager repeatedly tested the temperature of the manhole covers and Tuesday, discovered they were still in excess of 180 degrees.
Late Tuesday, city officials revised their earlier statement and said that the problem in the steam line was "re-occurring." They said they would shut down the steam line for the entire summer, as the company that operates the line works on a permanent fix.
It all started as a good time in Kiener Plaza Sunday night; 2-year-old Lila was having a blast with her parents at the splash pad and the playground.
But what happened next left Lila in the hospital, with severe burns on her feet.
Her parents are from out of town. They contacted News 4 because they were so upset about what happened, but were advised by an attorney not to talk on camera. They told us off-camera that Lila stepped on a manhole cover marked “Steam” in the park, just for a split-second, and badly burned her bare feet. The news of what happened to Lila, though, is also shocking to other parents playing with their kids at Kiener.
The plaza recently underwent a massive, multi-million dollar renovation and just re-opened last month.
With fun to be had, many children have been wandering around the park without shoes. Parents say they never expected there would be burning steam under the surface of the park.
Earlier Monday, the two steam manhole covers were free and clear for anyone to step on, but just after News 4 started making calls, crews came and barricaded them.
“That seems very dangerous because this is a place kids run around barefoot. So that seems pretty dangerous to have that over there,” said Nanci, a mother whose kids were playing in Kiener on Monday.
“That's very scary,” said another mom, CJ Jones.
News 4 wanted to know how could this happen.
The Gateway Arch Park Foundation, which designed the remodel of the park would not talk on camera but passed us off to the city.
No one from the city would talk on camera either, but off-camera an official said the reason the manhole was so hot was because there was a leak in the steam line that runs underneath the park.
The city said Monday that the company that operates it, Trigen, had already fixed the leak and told News 4 that the temperatures of the manhole covers would start to cool down.
Now, city officials say they will turn off the steam line for the entire summer. The line typically services commercial buildings downtown for heating purposes.
The company, under city supervision, will be working on a permanent fix.
Parents still want to know why there's a steam line running underneath the park in the first place.
“I think they should do a better job with their layouts and design and engineering to think about the possibilities of everything that can go wrong to keep the public safe,” Jones said.
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