Columbia airport loses heat; passengers unaffected

Friday, December 20, 2013 | 6:18 p.m. CST; updated 8:05 p.m. CST, Friday, December 20, 2013

COLUMBIA — A broken boiler at Columbia Regional Airport has stymied the heating system at the main terminal for almost a week, but passengers aren't busting out their winter coats yet.

A small furnace fire Sunday caused damage to the flue and boiler, said Steven Sapp, a Columbia Public Works Department spokesman. The damage led to the loss of heat in the main terminal, he said.

But airport workers and passengers seem not to have noticed a drop in the terminal temperature.

The cold is only noticeable when the automatic doors open and close, said Ken Anderson, an airport safety officer.

And while temperatures were dropping precipitously outside during the day Friday, portable heaters and heat from adjacent rooms kept the spacious room comfortable and warm shortly before the 5:30 p.m. flight to Dallas departed.

"It feels like the heat is on," said Terri Higgenbotham, who was at the airport to pick up her daughter. "I wouldn't have ever known."

Sapp said that no flights would be affected by the heating issue.

New parts for the boiler had been ordered, but repairs could take 15 to 30 days to be completed. Preliminary estimates put the cost of repairs at $20,000 to $30,000, Sapp said.

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