Short circuit smokes out Old Chem

By Charles Ratliff

Arizona Daily Wildcat

A power outage yesterday morning may have short circuited a vacuum pump motor, filling a third floor UA chemistry lab with


Old Chemistry building manager Seth Ruskin said he believed when power was restored after the 30-minute outage around 9 a.m., an electrical surge may have shorted the motor out.

Randy Ogden, Tucson Fire Department public information officer, said the smoke-filled lab was discovered when a building monitor was opening classrooms for the day.

"Everything appears to be fine," Ogden said. "We can't find anything else wrong."

UAPD Sgt. Brian Seastone said there was no damage or injuries reported. He said four fire trucks and one paramedic vehicle arrived on the scene within minutes of the 911 call and said that the whole building had been evacuated.

Ruskin said the hardest part about fire alarms going off in any campus building is getting the students evacuated.

"There were probably three lecture halls that had to be dumped," he said. "It took three of us running through the building throwing people out."

He said students would rather check their grades or watch what is happening than leave the building, which violates state and federal fire safety codes.

Ruskin said the lab contains gas cylinders, some holding toxic and flammable gases.

He said the department must next investigate the cause of the fire. A safety committee will try to determine whether the fire could have been avoided, he said, adding that they will make whatever corrective measures necessary.

If the lab sustained damage, he said a claim would be filed with Department of Risk Management.

Read Next Article