Six volunteer fire departments responded to a call at the Scarborough Library Friday afternoon when a fan motor locked up the HVAC system, forcing students to evacuate into the cold.
The fan seized up and burned out, which caused a burning smell and smoke to fill the reading room of the ground floor in the library a little after 1:30 p.m.
“We pulled the fire alarm and made an announcement,” said Ann Watson, the dean of the library. “After the announcement, we made a sweep throughout the library to make sure no one was left inside.” According to her, the library was clear after eight minutes.
Marianne Davis, a senior English major and writing tutor, was in the middle of tutoring when the fire alarm went off. “We didn’t smell anything until we got up by the door,” she said.
Despite the scene of students gathered along the sidewalks along with fire and rescue vehicles, Carlos Gabriel Martinez, a sophomore business major said that there was one student who failed to notice what was going on. “We had to rush over and stop this one dude from going inside. He had his ear buds in and wasn’t paying attention at all,” said Martinez.
There were no injuries during the evacuation. Students were asked to go to the Ram’s Den and Student Center in order to keep warm. In addition to the library being closed, the Byrd Center was also closed. However, a Rave alert was not sent out regarding the evacuation or closures.
Daniel Henderson, a lieutenant from the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department, confirmed that the motor in the HVAC system had locked up. “We’ve isolated the problem and turned it over to building maintenance,” he said.
According to Watson, the only damage done was to the fan of the HVAC system that will have to be replaced. However, the cost at this time is unknown.
The six fire departments to respond to the call were Shepherdstown Volunteer, Sharpsburg, VA Medical, Baker Heights, Boonsboro and citizens from Charlestown. Henderson stated that normally four departments respond, but they wanted to ensure there was an extra ladder available.
This week marks the second time of the semester the Shepherdstown Fire Department has responded to a call at the University. Last Sunday evening on Jan. 19, the fire department responded at Dunlop Hall after cardboard boxes were left on top of a stove.
By 2:50 p.m., students were able to return to the library and tutoring center. The only section barred off from use was the ground level reading room and computer lab. “I didn’t want there to be any adverse effects because of the smell,” said Watson.