Hammond Building Catches Fire, Will Be Closed Wednesday

The Alpha Fire Company was dispatched to Hammond at 10:53 p.m. Tuesday night after police reported a “working fire” inside the building. When crews arrived at the scene there was a self-ventilated fire pouring out of the windows of one of the rooms.

A graduate research office on the second floor caught fire and the cause is still unknown. The investigation is on hold until the insurance company sends an expert, Penn State spokesperson Lisa Powers said.

There was no one was in the building when the fire caught and crews had it out within ten minutes. Alpha Fire Company was on the scene and they also requested an engine from Boalsburg for backup because of how big the building is, Fire Chief Steve Bair said. Bair said they used approximately 600 gallons of water to extinguish the flames.

Other than the room where the fire originated, which is completely incinerated, there is light smoke throughout the building being vented by OPP, minor scorching on the wall a floor above where the fire started, and water in the basement.

“They are ventilating the building but the decision has been made that the building will be closed tomorrow,” Powers said. “Even though there wasn’t a lot of fire damage, the smoke damage and the smell from the smoke is keeping us in a cautious mode to keep the building unoccupied.”

About 200 people occupy Hammond on a daily basis. Most of it is administrative, but there are also undergraduate and graduate engineering students that utilize the building.

Depending on the lingering smoke fumes, crews will determine if the building is safe to re-open tomorrow.

UPDATE (Wednesday, 2:30 p.m.): According to a release from the university, normal operations for employees will resume in Hammond on Thursday. In order to reduce foot traffic while contractors repair damaged areas, all classes scheduled to take place in Hammond Building will be relocated.

The damage was primarily contained to Room 136, but as a precaution the classrooms and laboratory space directly above and below the affected room are closed while repairs take place.

Classes are scheduled to resume in Hammond on August 7.

Image: Cameron Hart

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