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A sewer line that runs through downtown Flagstaff clogged and diverted more than 2,000 gallons of raw sewage into the basement of Theatrikos Theatre Company's downtown building on Friday morning. 

Executive Director Chris Verrill cited health concerns when telling the Arizona Daily Sun that Theatrikos' theater would be closed next week, meaning their last showing of "Wait Until Dark" Friday night was canceled.

"We are concerned with the health issues," Verrill said. "Sewage in the basement means unhealthy air throughout the building."

The company hopes to find a new location for their next show, "Newsies," and expects to reopen for the opening night of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" on May 31. Theatrikos' theater is owned by the City of Flagstaff and leased to the theater company. It is located at 11 W. Cherry Ave.

Verrill said he discovered the overflow at around 8:20 a.m. Friday, when he came in to do payroll. He first smelled the sewage when he walked into the building and went to check on the cause. When he got to the top of the stairwell, Verrill said he immediately smelled the problem.

Sewer water had pooled up to two inches high in the basement hallways, theater greenroom and dressing room. Luckily many of the costumes were hung up; Verrill said anything touching the floor was ruined.

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"In an attempt to figure out what the problem was and solve it, I walked through barefoot," Verrill said. He went to turn off the toilets, but quickly found out that wasn't the issue.

The blockage was found in the new sewage line installed on Beaver Street last year, said Theatrikos Technical Director Larry Gould. City officials confirmed the issue was caused by a buildup of materials that appeared to be rags.

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Officials have not yet determined where the rags came from, however. 

"We're the first building with a basement above the clog, so we became the drain access," Gould said.

Jessica Drum, spokeswoman for the City of Flagstaff, said the sewer is not expected to be damaged and that the blockage has been cleared. The city plans to conduct further inspections to ensure no additional damage occurred.

The city is accepting responsibility for the blockage because it occurred in the main sewage line.

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Scott Buffon can be reached at sbuffon@azdailysun.com, on Twitter @scottbuffon or by phone at (928) 556-2250.

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Senior Reporter - Cops, Environment

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