An office at the University of Alaska Southeast caught fire Thursday night (3-24-16), destroying the room and causing smoke damage to the rest of the building.
Sitka Assistant Fire Chief Al Stevens says his department got a call around 7:19 Thursday night reporting smoke in the Fisheries Technology branch of UAS, which is on the first floor.
“Fortunately there was a person in the office across from the office of origin, and they heard some popping sounds, which I believe was the metal cabinet of the desk actually buckling,” he said.
He says the early call allowed the firefighters to get on scene quickly and save the fire from spreading.
“It didn’t get so big enough that it actually activated asprinkler system. But it was extremely close, like seconds away from activating the sprinkler,” he said.
Stevens is still investigating the cause of the fire. He initially thought it was caused by a problem with a laptop’s lithium battery but the battery was intact. He’s now looking into a power strip plug. Those were the only two ignition sources in the area, he says.
Despite the blaze, UAS was open for the day.
-Emily Kwong contributed to this report.