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National Air Force museum evacuated after water leak from cold weather

A leak in a water pipe at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force led to an evacuation Wednesday of the region’s top tourist attraction as a precaution, according to the museum.

Freezing cold temperatures caused the leak in a fire suppression sprinkler system in the Early Years Gallery that set off a fire alarm, the museum said in a statement. Patrons and staff were allowed to return to the museum within half an hour.

A museum “Disaster Response Team” immediately began clean-up, the statement said.

The museum removed a .30 caliber Lewis machine gun and a sword and scabbard because they were wet. The artifacts “will be evaluated and cleaned as necessary by the museum’s conservator,” spokeswoman Sarah Swan said in an email.

Another water leak was discovered in the Presidential Gallery on Wednesday morning, although the aircraft hangar in a restricted-access portion of the base was not open to the public at the time. The gallery will be open Thursday through Sunday, the museum reported.

Last Friday, the museum was evacuated when a leak in a sprinkler system activated a fire alarm and spilled water in the lobby, according to Swan.

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