While many students were leaving campus for the day on Wednesday, a convoy of fire trucks was heading the opposite direction towards the Knight Chemical Laboratory where a small fire was reported in a chemical waste room located on the first floor adjacent to the building’s loading dock.
There were no injuries and the fire was quickly extinguished.
Bart Hamilton, building coordinator for the complex, was working in the loading dock when he noticed the smell of smoke immediately followed by the sounding of the building’s fire alarm. Knowing the potential severity of the situation given the types of chemicals stored in that area, he urged nearby students to evacuate right away.
The locked waste room is located near a much larger storage area where large containers of highly toxic and flammable chemicals are held. Had the fire not been controlled and spread to that area, the situation could have been much worse, Hamilton pointed out.
The sudden flare-up happened while staff was transferring chemicals to the waste room, the exact cause of the blaze is currently unknown.
There was little danger to students and faculty. Those handling the chemicals calmly acted according to their procedure and the fire was “pretty much out” by the time firefighters arrived, Hamilton said.
Scenes of a hastened escape were soon reverted to business as usual and classes resumed for the day, albeit with a lingering smell of smoke.