Smoke and sirens filled the air at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning when a small explosion caused a fire in Oregon State University’s heating facility.
The fire caused a momentary campus-wide loss of heating capabilities, but was reestablished by 9:20 a.m. thanks to Les Walton, head of the heating facility. Walton quickly shifted heating capacity to auxiliary facilities across campus.
Corvallis Fire Department put out the fire in roughly 15 minutes, said Public Information Officer, Laura Sauermann. After the fire was snuffed out an empty stretcher entered the building and exited with the only known victim of this fire.
The facility services employee in his mid-forties was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital after attempting to extinguish the fire. His condition remains unknown but officials say he has suffered minor smoke inhalation and should recover soon. The unnamed employee was found unconscious inside the building with a fire extinguisher at his side.
Corvallis Fire Battalion Chief, James Patton, explains: “The victim made a valiant but very dangerous attempt to extinguish the fire.” Patton asserted that an untrained person should never try to put out a fire of that size. He further emphasized that the right action to take in this situation is to call the authorities.
According to Sauremann, a natural gas leak caused a minor explosion in the 40-year-old boiler. She is leading further investigations, but stated that the fire was unintentional and that the heating building is up to code.
This fire comes on the heels of a recent electric fire Nov. 24 that caused twenty-six buildings to be shut down and closed campus for several days. Sauremann stresses that there is no physical connection between the two occurrences.
The malfunctioning boiler will be offline for a least a couple weeks, but there have been no far-reaching damages across campus. There will be no road closures or class delays.