SUNY Canton Cancels Classes, Sends Students Home
In the wake of Friday's fire at SUNY Canton, the college is sending students home and cancelling classes for the week of February 13 through 17. Classes are set to resume on Monday, February 20.
Our earlier report:
Hundreds of students at SUNY Canton couldn't return to their dorms Friday, after a fire on campus forced evacuations of several buildings.
Both Heritage and Rushton 'residence halls' were evacuated. Each is home to more than 200 students.
SUNY Canton officials planned to conduct tests Friday afternoon to determine whether it's safe to let the students back in.
The evacuations were the most lasting consequence of a fire that broke out late Friday morning in a chemistry lab at Cook Hall.
While there was no explosion to start, windows in Cook Hall were blown out by the heat.
SUNY Canton officials initially said one person - not publicly identified by school officials - was in the lab. Friday night, they said that there was no one in the lab at the time of the fire, but that someone was in the lab earlier in the day.
Cook Hall, the faculty office building and Wicks Hall were all evacuated, and remained closed at mid-afternoon Friday.
In addition, the volunteer firefighters who fought the blaze were to undergo decontamination Friday.
It was not clear Friday afternoon whether there there were fears of a specific kind of contamination, or a more general 'there are a lot of chemicals stored here so let's not take chances' concern.
After the initial decison is made about letting students back into their dorms, the college faces other urgent decisions about whether classes can be held in the affected buildings next week, said Randy Sieminski, a SUNY Canton vice-president.
Our earlier reporting...
A fire at SUNY Canton is out, and investigators are searching for the cause of the blaze.
At its worst, white smoke bllowed from Cook Hall and firefighters took to the roof to fight flames that seemed to be coming from the building's ventilation system.
The fire was declared what officials call a "mass casualty incident," even though no injuries have been reported.
Officials say it's a term they use to prepare fire and emergency personnel in case a large number of people are injured.
One thing that helped Friday: few classes were in sesson.
College officials say many different types of chemicals are stored in the area where the fire broke out, which could be a hazard for firefighters.
7 News reporter John Friot reports that both Cook and nearby Payson Hall were evacuated and it is believed no one is left in the danger area.
The fire reportedly spread through several rooms.
According to the college's website, Cook Hall is home to the science, health and criminal justice programs.
It contains mortuary science facilities, science labs, the science tutoring center and nursing facilities.
Friot said students were evacuated from three dormitories which are downwind of the fire.
Saturday, February 13, 2016, Watertown, NY
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