At 6:48 a.m. Sunday, March 31, University Police and local fire departments were alerted to a fire in Brown 215.
The fire departments from Kochville and Carrolton townships and Zilwaukee, as well as University Police, reported to the scene.
J.J. Boehm, the SVSU director of media and community relations, confirmed there were no injuries and that Brown Hall was “most likely” unoccupied when the fire occurred.
A University Communications email confirmed a smart podium caused the fire.
Boehm said SVSU was unsure what caused the podium to catch fire.
An investigation was underway to help determine the cause of the fire and the extent of the damage it caused.
The first and second floors of Brown Hall will be inaccessible Monday, April 1. The university worked throughout Sunday to relocate classrooms for Monday and beyond, as Boehm said certain classes could “quite possibly be closed past Monday.”
“We are looking to relocate classrooms, but it is taking a while since one of the systems we use to do so (was closed on Sunday),” Boehm said. “It is one big puzzle. We have to account for class sizes, what rooms are available at which times and more.”
Boehm said a maintenance worker finishing his shift noticed a fire alarm had gone off.
“There was a custodian who was competing his shift and noticed an alarm had been activated,” Boehm said. “So, he placed a call to Saginaw County 911, which activated the fire system and began the fire suppression system.”
Paul Behmlander, the chief of the Kochville Fire Department, said his department was alerted Sunday morning to “a fire alarm and possible gas leak.”
Boehm later confirmed there was just a fire and not a gas leak.
“We arrived and were notified that there was a white haze of smoke on the second floor,” Behmlander said. “We had a water flow. It was discovered that there was a fire in room 215. The fire suppression system had knocked the fire down.”
Behmlander said the fire department’s next steps were to evacuate the building.
“Certainly, the overall situation (was) getting everyone out of the building and trying to evacuate all the water and getting the suppression system back online,” he said.
Behmlander could not confirm the cause of the fire or comment on how long the building will remain closed.
“The cause is still under investigation,” he said. “(SVSU) Maintenance is on (the scene). They’re going to take over the building. There is water cleanup and damage that has to be assessed. I can’t get you an exact time (that the building will reopen).”
The sprinklers caused water damage on the first and second floor. Gohm Insurance Restoration was called to help assess the water damage. They used their equipment to begin cleaning up the pools of water and remove water from the carpeting.
Behmlander could not confirm how severe the water damage was but did say there was damage on the first and second floors.
“This happened on the second floor,” he said. “Gravity’s going to do one thing to water. There’s water here in a lot of areas where there shouldn’t be water.”
Boehm said more clean-up crews were to come in throughout Sunday and Monday.
“They are calling in outside crews to assess the water damage,” he said.
All fire departments left the scene at 9:33 a.m. SVSU Maintenance took over the scene to assess damage and begin cleanup.
SVSU Maintenance said they would not comment further on the situation.
Chad Gohm, the vice president of Gohm Insurance Restoration, said certain wings of Brown could be closed for weeks.
University Communications will send email updates as they receive more information about the fire and access to Brown, according to Boehm.
Students can find a list of class relocations for Monday here.
Last update: Sunday, March 31, 9:02 p.m.
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