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Thursday, May 23, 2024
<p>An emergency responder looks on at the scene of a fire at Norman Hall Monday night.</p>

An emergency responder looks on at the scene of a fire at Norman Hall Monday night.

A Monday night fire at Norman Hall is under investigation — only two days after a maintenance tractor caused a fire at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

The fire lasted about 30 minutes and left no injuries or structural damage, University Police Lieutenant Jake Pruitt said. It is believed to have started in the electrical room on the first floor of the UF building located near Sorority Row. 

The fire was first noticed when a smoke alarm alerted UPD, which then contacted Gainesville Fire Rescue, said Shawn Hillhouse, assistant fire chief.

Only a few students in the hallway getting water needed to be evacuated, Pruitt said.

Medics, police and fire rescue arrived at the scene about five minutes later, finding heavy smoke throughout the building, according to GFR. Emergency responders left by 10:40 p.m.

UPD blocked car traffic from a section of 12th Ave from 5th to 8th Ave and a crowd of about 20 pedestrians came out of nearby apartments and dorms to watch the responders work.

The UF Facility officials arrived at Norman around 9 p.m. UF Facilities Assistant Director Allan Masters said. They remained after 10:50 p.m. to lock up the building and stop the smoke alarm.

Florida’s State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause.

Whether or not Norman Hall is open for the next few days is up to Glenn Good, dean of the College of Education, Pruitt said. However, if the building is open, some rooms may have to be blocked off.

Anna Massey, a 21-year-old UF psychology senior, was walking her dog, Lucky, from her Bella Villa apartment with her neighbor when she noticed the emergency response sirens and vehicle lights, she said.

“We rolled up and they were connecting the hose to the hydrant,” she said. “We came down Sixth (Avenue) and were like ‘Wow, I think that’s in Norman.’”

Massey said she sometimes studies in the Education Library in Norman. She Facetimed her mom, a former UF student, when she saw the sirens. 

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She said she smelled faint smoke when she approached the building around 8:45 p.m. By 9:20 p.m. the smoke smell dissipated from the area around Norman Hall.

Nathan Knorst, a 18-year-old UF finance freshman, walked to the scene of the fire with his neighbor from his dorm in Fletcher Hall after seeing the UF Alert. 

“We just wanted to see what was going on, especially after the fire at Ben Hill Griffin,” he said.

Knorst thinks the two fires are a coincidence, but said he wanted to see what happened on the scene.

“Seeing these are so close together, it's like, is there a link?” he said. “What’s up with UF and fires?”

An emergency responder looks on at the scene of a fire at Norman Hall Monday night.

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Lianna Hubbard

Lianna Hubbard is a reporter for The Alligator’s Investigative Team. The UF women’s study major began as a freelance reporter three years ago. She founded her community college’s award-winning newspaper before beginning at The Independent Florida Alligator. See an issue in your community or a story at UF? Send tips to her Twitter.

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