Minor blaze ignites outside of SBI

A minor fire broke out at the west wing of the School of Business and Industry’s water tower Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters worked to extinguish the fire as onlookers talked about what might have been the cause, as the origin is still being speculated.

Lt. Kermit Washington of the Tallahassee Fire Department, said the cause is “still being determined.” A full investigation is underway to determine whether arson was the cause.

“This is the first time I have seen a fire at a water tower, personally,” Washington said.

Supervisor of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning controls, Ron Reeves tried to extinguish the fire himself before firefighters arrived on the scene. Reeves said he initially received a call from the Service Response Center, which is located in the physical plant, about the chiller in the SBI building being on fire, not the tower.

“I rushed over because if the chiller’s on fire, that’s serious,” he said.

Reeves said he realized it was actually the wood frame surrounding the water tower andretrieved a fire extinguisher to put out the flames. He said the firefighters arrived on campus soon after.

“The fire was not that serious, but the actual tower was fanning the flames,” Reeves said. “Itcould have been much worse if it hadn’t been caught in time.”

Lequita Booth, director of administration in SBI, said she made the initial call about the fire.

“A student reported that there were flames, so I called the Service Response Center,” she said.

Reeves said this is the first time he had seen a fire at a water tower.

“It’s strange. I can’t see how it would ignite itself,” Reeves said.

Police officers said no one was injured, and no one was forced to evacuate the building.

Contact Lindsay Pollard at lensay383@yahoo.com.