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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Engineering building filled with smoke the first day after Spring Break

The building was cleared and classes resumed within an hour of the UF alert


Students were alerted to a fire Monday morning in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Building A.

Gainesville Fire Rescue soon confirmed that it was only heavy smoke due to a malfunctioning compressor, GFR Assistant Fire Chief Stephen Hesson said. 

“It did create a substantial amount of smoke on the second floor,” Hesson said. “Enough to where our crews had to put on their SCBA’s (self-contained breathing apparatus), make access to the building and find out what was causing the smoke.” 

At about 10 a.m., the UF Public Public Safety alert was sent out, instructing all students and faculty to evacuate the building and avoid the area. 

“We evacuated and were around just to make sure that people were out of the building,” University Police Department Lt. Jacob Pruitt said. 

Half an hour later, the building was clear, GFR and UPD left the scene, and the building was safe to begin the cleanup, which could take another day or two, Hesson said. 

There were no injuries and GFR arrived at the scene as quickly as possible, granted the difficulties with the “unprecedented” number of road closures on campus, Hesson said. 

“The number of road closures on University of Florida’s campus caused us a problem on this call,” Hesson said. 

Because of these closures, GFR’s arrival was delayed by a few minutes. 

Hesson was glad this call was not for a serious building fire but is anxious about the possibility of life-threatening incidents on campus in the future, where the closures will undoubtedly affect emergency responders. 

“Minutes matter in a medical emergency if someone is having a heart attack or stroke,” Hesson said. 

UF is property owned by the state. If there is an investigation, it would be done by the State Fire Marshal's office. With the investigation, they could determine how much the damage costs and determine exactly what went wrong in the compressor, Hesson said. 

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Troy Myers

Troy is the criminal justice reporter and a fourth-year journalism major with an outside focus in business administration. He previously studied accounting for two years at Santa Fe College but has since transferred to UFCJC. When Troy isn’t writing, he enjoys going to the beach and spending time with his dog, identical twin brother and family.

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