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Smoke from basement mechanical room results in Thomas Hall evacuation

December 3, 2013

EAU CLAIRE — Residents of Katharine Thomas Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire were evacuated to McIntyre Library at 4 a.m. Dec. 3 due to smoke caused by an equipment malfunction in the residence hall's elevator mechanical room.

The Eau Claire Fire Department and UW-Eau Claire personnel responded to the alarm, which was triggered by the smoke. The smoke was contained to the basement mechanical room and no injuries occurred, said Dr. Beth Hellwig, UW-Eau Claire's vice chancellor for student affairs.

The 139 students were allowed to return to their rooms within two hours of the evacuation, Hellwig said.

"Our housing staff implemented our emergency procedures plan and moved all the residents to the library commons area, where they could keep warm and had access to computers, bathrooms and vending machines," Hellwig said. "Live-in staff also were on site to provide support and assistance as needed."

The building's elevator is out of service while an elevator pump and contactor are being repaired, said Ben Corbett, Katharine Thomas Hall director.

"The students are safe and were not impacted by the incident, save for a faint odor from the smoke," Corbett said. "The fire doors and safety equipment performed their jobs wonderfully and kept the smoke confined to only a small portion of the building."

No estimated cost of damages is yet available, Corbett said.



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