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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Welding sparks fire in dryer at McKale

    A fire in the basement of McKale Center closed down the building for nearly two hours yesterday afternoon, but there were no injuries and minimal damage.

    The fire began in the basement when a welder working on a water pipe enhancement ignited built-up lint that came from vents connected to clothes dryer machines in an upstairs equipment room, said Christopher M. Kopach, the assistant director for UA Facilities Management.

    Facilities Management will need to replace 30 feet of ducting, but no structural damage was sustained during the fire, Kopach said, adding that he and other officials will go this morning to assess damages and determine costs.

    Fourteen Tucson Fire Department units with 42 firefighters responded within minutes to what the TFD identified as a two-alarm blaze, said Sgt. Eugene Mejia, spokesman for the University of Arizona Police Department.

    Mejia said though it might have inconvenienced those using the McKale Center, the evacuation was necessary.

    “”Safety is a major concern, so that’s going to take precedence over everything else,”” Mejia said.

    About 150 student employees, student athletes and staff evacuated McKale at 2:18 p.m., Mejia said.

    Police blocked off West Enke Drive, just south of McKale Center, between North Campbell Avenue and National Championship Drive.

    The football team was supposed to begin weight training at 2:40 p.m., but players didn’t seem to be bothered by the interruption of their schedule.

    “”I didn’t really mind, personally,”” said Wilrey Fontenot, a psychology junior and cornerback. “”I ain’t gonna lie.””

    The police and fire department arrived on the scene quickly and got everything under control, Fontenot said.

    Other students were irritated that the fire interrupted their work.

    Computer lab monitor Donovan Davis was working and doing some homework when the fire alarm rang and people had to evacuate.

    “”It disrupted my work, and I was a little annoyed,”” said Davis, an engineering management senior.

    White smoke rising from the ceiling of the McKale Center could be seen by Davis and other evacuees while they waited on the south side of the building.

    “”We thought it was a drill, then we saw the white smoke and we were scared of our stuff burning so we went back in and got our backpacks,”” said Melody Salcido, a student employee working in the McKale Sports Stop.

    Salcido, a mathematics junior, was also annoyed that she couldn’t do her job because of the fire, but said she was getting paid regardless.

    “”It’s a great inconvenience because we can’t serve the people that want their U of A stuff,”” Salcido said.

    Custodial services cleaned the equipment room of any residue from the fire extinguishers and an outside restorative company handled any further cleaning needs yesterday, Kopach said.

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