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Archive for Friday, January 12, 1990

SMOKE FROM FIRE SETS ALARMS RINGING AT KU

January 12, 1990

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A fire early Thursday afternoon at Kansas University's Snow Hall caused little damage to the building but produced enough smoke to set off alarms at other buildings.

Lawrence Fire Chief Jim McSwain today said the fire broke out at 12:39 p.m. when insulation and other building materials being stored on the basement floor were ignited by burning construction slag dripping from the sixth floor. McSwain said the slag came from materials being cut or welded.

Smoke filled Snow Hall and entered a network of steam tunnels connecting several KU buildings. The smoke set off an alarm at Carruth-O'Leary Hall at 12:49 p.m. and also entered the Art and Design Building.

AT 2 P.M., occupants of Strong Hall reported that smoke from the fire had accumulated in the building's ventilation system and had filled a room.

McSwain said officials have placed the damage estimate at $10,000. Damage was mostly confined to construction materials, McSwain said, although telephone cables in the hall also were damaged.

McSwain said no one was hurt, although several workers had to leave the building through ground-level windows because other exits were blocked by thick smoke.

Four engines companies and a ladder crew were sent to the building and brought the fire under control at 12:59 p.m.

Allen Wiechert, university director of facilities planning, said the fire in Snow Hall wasn't a major setback for the $7.23 million renovation project in the building.

WIECHERT SAID demolition had been finished in the part of the building where the fire occurred. Wiechert said there was no serious damage to renovation work, but the smoke did damage some of the contractor's equipment.

The renovation project, divided into two phases, will convert Snow's six floors into classrooms and offices for the mathematics and computer science departments. New space also is planned for the entomology museum. The renovation work aims for occupancy by fall 1990, but Wiechert said today that there had been several delays due to asbestos removal. He said the facilities planning department hasn't set a new deadline for the project.

McSwain said Lawrence firefighters routinely respond to fires on the Kansas University campus, although there is no formal agreement between the city and KU for fire protection.

"There really is no agreement; we just respond," McSwain said. "We provide full service to KU as we would everywhere else in the city. It's just part of the area we protect."

Mike Wildgen, acting city manager, said some cities have assessed universities or colleges for fire protection services, but Lawrence does not. He pointed out, however, that sales on the KU campus are subject to a half-cent city sales tax. A portion of the receipts from the city sales tax is earmarked for the fire department.

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