A fire broke out in Lattimore Hall last Friday causing smoke, but no damage, before being extinguished.
“I found out about the fire when I got to my statistics class,” freshman Ethan Green said. “I know that a lot of the professors that I have work in Lattimore, so I was concerned about everyone’s safety and relieved no one was hurt.”
The cause of the fire was determined to be an electrical failure in one phase of the electrical bus duct in the utility tunnel between Lattimore and Strong Auditorium, which converges with Lattimore at the west end on the second floor of the building.
“The first response was to determine the extent of the damage and to evaluate our options in order to restore the campus to normal operations as soon as possible,” Director of Central Utilities David Weed said.
UR Security had received a trouble alarm from Lattimore and Gavett Halls at 5:33 a.m. on Friday. All of the alarm systems on campus are monitored and polled constantly, so it is easy to detect a problem in the communication lines, as was the case on Friday.
At 5:34 a.m. more alarms were received from Taylor Hall, Schlegel Hall, a second part of Lattimore, Strong and Todd Union. Security was dispatched to Lattimore, as it was determined that there had been a major power failure there, with the first officer arriving about two minutes after the alarm. Additional officers were sent to the other buildings in question within two or three minutes.
Upon entering Lattimore, the officer confirmed the power outage. At 5:40 a.m., officers searching the premises found smoke in the utility tunnel and contacted the Rochester Fire Department at 5:41 a.m. RFD arrived on the scene three minutes later.
RFD extinguished the small flame and helped to fumigate the building.
“The decision was made by the College that they would not be able to reassign classes to alternate classrooms in time, so they decided to cancel classes for the day in Lattimore,” Director of University Security Walter Mauldin said.
Green commented that it was nice to have classes cancelled, “though not under these circumstances.”
Due to the fire, the electrical service to Lattimore, Schlegel, Gleason, Strong, Todd and Gavett was interrupted. The Chase Bank branch located in Todd Union was forced to close for the entire day as well, though the branch at the Medical Center remained open and attempted to provide service to the additional influx of customers.
“The network was down across the University; there were no computers, no Internet and no teller stubs, so we could not remain open,” Branch Manager of Chase Bank for the River Campus Branch John Kotrides said.
Power was finally restored to all buildings except Lattimore by approximately 7:40 a.m., and a temporary power restoration occurred for Lattimore around 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
However, to restore normal power to the building required the shipping of the necessary cable from New Jersey, which arrived Friday night.
“We made repairs and installed new electrical wire, replacing the damaged section,” Weed said.
By approximately 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, full power was restored to Lattimore.
Following the fire and repair in Lattimore, it was announced that beginning on Monday, Feb. 12, the Facilities Condition Assessment would be performed in many locations both on and off campus. The assessment will conclude on Friday, March 16. Although the assessment is not taking place due to the electrical fault and consequent fire, the incident will be taken into account.
“We will be taking a more detailed look at the buildings to evaluate and prioritize what needs to be done to try and avoid failures such as this one,” UR Architect Paul Tankel said.
The Facilities staff will escort an engineering firm over the next month to inspect all the rooms in Meliora Hall, Rush Rhees Library and Morey Hall, along with locations at Strong Memorial Hospital, School of Medicine and Dentistry and Helen Wood Hall.
According to Mauldin, future repairs are in the works for Lattimore and a debriefing meeting will be held on Thursday in which the entire incident will be discussed, as well as possible causes. As of yet, no sources have been able to confirm the cause of the glitch in the electrical duct, but the investigation will continue.
Halusic is a member of the class of 2010.