Owens Science Hall Reopens Following Lab Fire

Owens Science Hall, which was closed Wednesday afternoon and evening because of a fourth-floor chemistry lab fire, reopened as planned Thursday morning.

The fire, which broke out at about 2:15 p.m., was contained to the lab in Room 450 and has been ruled accidental. The lab’s water-sprinkler system quickly extinguished the blaze. The cause of the fire is being reviewed by university officials.

There were no injuries, but the lab was damaged and will need some repairs. It is too soon to estimate the cost of repairs or when they will be completed.

The building was quickly evacuated and students were directed to the nearby McCarthy Gym. At about 3 p.m., when the St. Paul Fire Department declared the building was safe, students were allowed to re-enter the building to retrieve their coats and belongings. The building remained closed until the following morning so crews could clean up the water from the sprinklers.

It was estimated that the sprinklers ran for about 12 minutes. Water ran out of the room and into hallways and nearby offices. Some water also made it down to the third floor. The university’s custodial staff had the majority of the water cleaned up by 5 p.m.

At a meeting Thursday morning of University Action and Response Team, co-chair Dan Meuwissen, director of Public Safety, said he was grateful there were no injuries and pleased with how well the building’s sprinkler and alarm systems functioned, how quickly the St. Paul Fire Department responded to the scene, how well students evacuated the building, and how quickly news that the building would be closed was circulated to the university community.