Cleanup and repair efforts have commenced in Temple Hall following a fire that occurred Wednesday, Sept. 19.
According to Bob Eckels, the director of facilities management, the fire caused damage to adjacent chemistry labs on the fourth floor and is to blame for water damage throughout the building.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but Eckels now says it had it to do with a chemical reaction in an experiment that was being done in lab 444 in the northeast corner of the building.
“There was intense heat at the point where the incident occurred, so there was thermoplastic that couldn’t stand a lot of that intense heat,” Eckels said. “The thermoplastic was melted and a great deal of smoke occurred because the plastic that was part of the combustion produced a lot of black smoke.”
Because of this, Eckels said that lab 444 has a lot of blackened ceiling in and around the vents.
It was initially thought that the sprinklers had been activated, but Eckels said that the high intensity heat caused a solder joint to let go, causing a one-inch water line to spew water everywhere.
“The water spread through those two rooms (lab 444 and lab 440), some adjacent smaller rooms, another classroom to the west, and down a hallway,” Eckels said. “It also made its way through floor penetrations into the third and second floors and into the dean’s suite.”
He said the third floor retained the most water, with rooms having 1-2 inches of water in them.
The cleanup process, according to Eckels, involves bringing in heavy-duty equipment including a vacuum to suck up the water, as well as bringing in floor fans and dehumidifiers to dry out the walls.
Due to the fast response time, Eckels said they were able to avoid mold problems resulting from wet drywall, which usually start to occur after 48 hours.
All of the stations that were affected will still be in a state of needing repairs, but will be back in operation as of Monday, Sept. 24, with the exception of labs 440 and 444, which will have to undergo assessments by an insurance adjuster to evaluate the damages in those rooms, according to Eckels.
The fire, which is thought to have been accidental, occurred shortly after 3 p.m., and there were no injuries of students, staff, faculty or fire department personnel, according to Tamera Jahnke, the dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, and Assistant Fire Chief David Pennington.