Hundreds of students were evacuated this afternoon after a fire broke out in one of the chemistry buildings. Fire services were called out shortly before one o’clock after the blaze began in a fume cupboard on the first floor of Chemistry B block.
Fire services rushed to the scene sending eleven fire engines from five different areas to tackle the blaze. The fire came as a shock to all of the 400 people who were evacuated, many of whom stayed throughout the day to watch the events unfold.
While the blaze has now been extinguished, fire services are still investigating what exactly happened but are confident the blaze began in a fume cupboard on the first floor of the building.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s fire investigation officer, Trevor Lund, stated: “We received a call at around ten to one today. There was smoke issuing from the roof. The fire fighting appliances took action on the first floor dealing with a fire in the fume vent system.”
Lund commended the University and its staff for the swift action taken to evacuate the building as well as helping to inform the fire service of the many risks around the building. The design for the building helped to contain the fire and since it is lined with asbestos this also helped prevent the fire from spreading. As the fire service tried to tackle the fire they could be seen spraying water on the building before fire fighters forced their way into the first floor to deal with it from a closer range. Fire fighters remained at the scene for several hours until the situation was under full control.
While no one was injured the fire has caused disruption to students’ timetables. All of the Chemistry buildings have been out of use since the fire broke out and lectures have been cancelled in several subjects which make use of the Chemistry block.
At first it was believed the fire was related to building work on the roof but it was later discovered it had actually begun in the fume cupboard.
The damage cause by the fire cannot be fully assessed yet but at least three rooms have been damaged in B block.
Students reacted with both interest and dismay at the incident. A second-year Chemistry student told Nouse: “I’m worried about getting my stuff back that I had to leave in there. It’s very important and I hope we’re allowed back into the building soon.”
Another student who stayed to watch the afternoon’s events unfold said: “We were just going about our normal day when we could suddenly smell smoke. Next thing the fire alarm went off and we were being evacuated.”