Updated 02/10/2012 07:11 PM
Classes at SUNY Canton to resume Feb. 20th after fire in chemistry lab
Students at SUNY Canton will be out of class for an entire week after a fire at a science lab Friday. Students said they saw black smoke coming from Cook Hall just before noon and the campus was put on lockdown. As our Cara Thomas tells us, no one was hurt and fire officials are now looking into the cause of the fire.
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CANTON, N.Y. -- "People were tweeting pictures like campus on fire and stuff," said SUNY Canton student Richard Brogden.
No one was allowed on or off the campus for over an hour and half while fire departments gained control of a fire that began in a science lab at SUNY Canton’s Cook Hall.
Brogden said, "We were trying to get back on and they were saying, like, oh yeah, we don't want any traffic because of all the ambulances and fire quads and stuff like that."
Black smoke rose from Cook Hall, the alarms sounded and everyone got out safely, even the individual who was in the lab at the time. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but college officials say they don't believe it was set on purpose. They say the lab, and likely parts of Cook Hall, won’t be in use any time soon.
Randy Sieminski, Assistant Vice President for Advancement, said, "We don't know if Cook Hall's going to be fine weeks from now or if it's out of commission for two years or permanently."
Sieminski said their main concern is air quality, after chemicals from the lab may have mixed in with the smoke, which is why two buildings connected to Cook Hall were evacuated, as well as two residence halls. Air quality tests will start in the residence halls and make their way through the academic buildings. It's part of the reason students have been sent home for an entire week.
"We are relieved that there wasn't an excessive amount of any chemicals but we're being very thorough in terms of testing for air quality and contamination, not only in that building, but the surrounding buildings to make sure everything's safe to go back into any buildings before we let anyone else in there," said Sieminski.
But if anything positive came from Friday, college officials say the evacuations went smoothly and the emergency crews showed up immediately and quickly got the fire under control. The school says they know it could have been much worse and they are grateful no one was hurt.
Students are being asked to report back to campus on Sunday, February 19th. Classes will resume the next day. Only those with athletic obligations are permitted to stay on campus.