Fire melts plastic cart, sets off sprinklers in North Engineering

February 6, 2009 | News, UToday
By Jon Strunk

A piece of equipment in a second-floor lab in the North Engineering Building caught fire last night, melting the plastic cart it was sitting on and setting off the sprinkler system, which immediately put out the fire.

Nitschke Hall and North Engineering were both evacuated as the smell of the melting cart initially caused concerns about a possible chemical leak. University officials have confirmed there was no leak of chemicals.

The sprinkler system water resulted in flooding on the first, second and basement floors of one hallway. Officials said most of the water and damaged ceiling tiles had been cleaned up, though assessment of the research and instructional labs is ongoing.

“Our emergency system worked just like it should,” said Gary Jankowski, associate vice president for safety and health. “Emergency crews from the UT Police Department and the Toledo Fire Department were here in minutes, they evacuated the buildings to ensure everyone’s safety, and our sprinkler system quickly put out the fire.”

Dr. Nagi Naganathan, dean of the College of Engineering, expressed his thanks to the safety personnel who responded to the incident.

“I was very pleased with the response of the safety personnel who handled this situation so quickly and thoroughly. They made safety the No. 1 priority,” Naganathan said. “I would also like to thank and compliment our faculty, staff and students for their compliance with our campus health and safety guidelines. This allowed everyone to respond swiftly.”

“Unfortunately, when the sprinkler system works well, there’s a mess to clean up,” Jankowski said. “But the mess is better than the alternative.”

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