Sep 282009
 
Authors: Kirsten Silveira, Madeline Novey

An improperly discarded cigarette in a trashcan caused the evacuation of the Lory Student Center Monday afternoon.

A spokesperson for Poudre Fire Authority, the agency that responded on scene with about 22 members of its department, said firefighters found the cigarette had caused a “smoldering trash fire” in a bin situated against the west side of the building on a loading dock.

There was no damage reported, the public information officer for PFA Patrick Love told the Collegian as hundreds of people were allowed to re-enter the LSC at 3:24 p.m.

The trashcan was situated near what is thought to be an employee entrance, said Dell Rae Moellenberg, a spokesperson for the university.

CSU policy prohibits people from smoking in all university buildings and within 20 feet of any entrance, passageway, operable window or ventilation system.

“This was clearly a violation,” Moellenberg said, adding that the university is investigating the incident further to see “it doesn’t happen again.”

“If someone is going to smoke,” Love said, “do so in an approved area.”

Smoke from the fire floated into the LSC’s air take, later moving through the ventilation system and setting the fire alarms off at about 2:20 p.m.

Love, who is also captain of Public Affairs and Education for the department, said post-evacuation the department investigated two to three different areas of the building to find the source of the smell.

During the investigation, Love escorted a Collegian reporter and photographer with the team of firefighters through the building.

PFA did not let people in during this time to air on the side of caution and maintain safety.

“Life safety is our No. 1 concern in any situation,” he told the Collegian after the incident.

Members of Student Government, sitting near the rock wall in the LSC Plaza about half an hour after evacuation, said they didn’t smell anything burning and weren’t sure what had occurred.

Noah Sandoval, a junior civil engineering major, said that he had been in a meeting with the Vice President of Student Affairs Mike Ellis when he overheard a passing conversation between Ellis and his secretary about a possible fire drill.

” … And two minutes later, the alarm went off,” Sandoval said.

When the Collegian asked Ellis if the commotion was the result of a routine fire drill, he said it was not a planned drill and firemen were searching the building for any possible source.

Ellis later said that there are on average about 1000 to 2000 people in the LSC on weekday afternoons.

News Managing Editor Madeline Novey and ASCSU Beat Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

1: burning cigarette caused a smoldering trash can fire

2:20 p.m.: approximate time the Lory Student Center was evacuated Monday afternoon

22: number of Poudre Fire Authority employees who responded to the scene

20 feet: the distance CSU policy mandates people stand from all university buildings, any entrance, passageways, operable windows or ventilation systems when smoking

1000 to 2000: the number of people estimated to be in the LSC on a weekday afternoon

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