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Fire at U-House

U-House is usually a place for students to relax and build community connections on campus, but on November 5 U-House was also the site of a small electrical fire.

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By Katherine Gibson (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: November 13, 2013

U-House is usually a place for students to relax and build community connections on campus, but on November 5 U-House was also the site of a small electrical fire.

As Martin Kelly, the programmer at Student Life, explains, although small, this fire led to an evacuation of the building, closing it down for a day-and-a-half to allow for the structure and wiring to be properly checked.

“As a safety precaution we had to clear [the building], evacuate, and then call in all the appropriate emergency people,” Martin says. “The fire was put out in seconds, but U- House was closed down for the duration of the day and part of the next day until all the electrical systems were checked out.

“Any building, anywhere in the university when there’s any kind of incident, especially an electrical fire, is closed until it all gets checked out,” he continues. “The whole building gets shut down – there’s a procedure to go through.”

However, despite emergency personnel being called, no fire alarms went off in U-House during the incident.

Brian Leonard, director of security and emergency management, equates this to the contained nature of the fire and assures students that the fire alarms, as well as the building, are up to code.

“Over the sink is a heat detector and then further above the ceiling is where the fire alarm is. The smoke didn’t reach the fire alarm,” Leonard explains. “We actually vetted that through the fire department. We asked them, ‘Is this up to code?’  and they said, ‘Absolutely; this is how it works.’ They explained it to us that over the kitchen, should smoke rise, [our] detector will go off all the time,” he notes. “There is a fail-safe there …everything is functioning – everything is up to code.”

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