UPDATE: Fire At Memorial Union On UW-Madison Campus; Cause Of Fire Determined

UPDATED Monday, October 8, 2012 --- 4:00 p.m.

From the Wisconsin Union:
Wisconsin Union Renovation Project Fire Update

A small fire started Monday morning at approximately 7:35 a.m. in a portion of the attic of Wisconsin Union Theater that is currently under construction. The Madison Fire Department was immediately called to the scene and the fire was quickly contained and extinguished. There were no injuries to anyone working on the project.

Though the main portion of the building is isolated from the theater wing, it was evacuated as a precaution. This portion of the Memorial Union was reopened to the public at about 8:30 a.m.

The fire started as a result of cutting work being performed by a demolition crew. An internal evaluation is on-going; however damage appears to be minimal. Since the area involved was undergoing selective demolition prior to restoration, only minor cleanup will be necessary and there will be no delay in completing the project. Following an analysis of the fire’s cause, procedures will be assessed and modified if necessary to prevent any similar issues going forward.

The fire department investigation is complete and normal work resumed by 9:30 a.m.


UPDATED Monday, October 8, 2012 --- 3:05 p.m.

From the UW-Madison Police Department:

Madison, Wisconsin –On 10/08/2012 at 7:38AM, University Police Officers were dispatched along with the Madison Fire Department to the Memorial Union on Langdon Street for a report of a fire inside the Union Theatre which is currently undergoing renovations.

Officers arrived on scene and secured the area for the fire department. Officers were able to verify that all construction workers were accounted for and that no civilians were injured.

Madison Firefighters were able to control and extinguish the fire limiting the amount of damage to approximately $10,000.

An investigator from the University Police Department was able to determine that the cause of the fire was due to a construction worker involved in demolition inside the theatre. The worker was using a cutting tool and accidentally ignited some flammable materials in the area.


UPDATED Monday, October 8, 2012 --- 1:15 p.m.

From the Madison Fire Department:

A fire caused extensive damage this morning at the Memorial Union Theater on the UW-Madison campus.

Firefighters were called to the scene at 7:38 am and arrived three minutes later. The first crew on the scene reported a large amount of smoke coming from the side and roof of the building. A second alarm was requested to bring additional firefighters and equipment to the scene.

Firefighters were told by construction workers that a fire had started near the ground level of the theater.

The flames quickly traveled up the void space behind a wall and entered the large attic space above the theater. A fire crew entered the building and saw fire burning along the walls near the ceiling of the theater. They quickly extinguished the visible flames and began searching for access to the attic. Once an access door for the attic was located, firefighters pulled a hoseline up into the attic. They found a large amount of fire burning in the smoke filled attic. They extinguished all visible fire and began searching for any hot spots in the walls and ceiling of the attic.

Other firefighters, using aerial ladders, climbed onto the roof to make sure that all of the fire was extinguished in the roofing material. The fire was declared under control fifteen minutes after firefighters arrived on scene.

One firefighter became ill on the scene and was transported by paramedics to UW Hospital. UW Police Department is conducting the fire investigation and will release the fire cause and damage estimate.

Firefighters made a tremendous stop and prevented further damage to the building. Their access to the attic was limited to one door and moving around in the attic space required crawling on small walkways in heavy smoke conditions.


UPDATED Monday, October 8, 2012 --- 9:40 a.m.

@WisconsinUnion tweeted the following: Small fire did occur in @UnionTheater this A.M. No signigicant damage & no delay in construction expected.


UPDATED Monday, October 8, 2012 --- 9:25 a.m.

@UWMadison tweeted the following: Streets are back open near Memorial Union following this morning's fire. Buses are running their normal routes.


UPDATE Monday, October 8, 2012 --- 9:15 a.m.

We are continuing to follow breaking news on the UW-Madison campus.

Firefighters remain at the scene at Memorial Union.

At this time, the fire is out. According to a firefighter -- the fire moved up a wall from the first floor into the attic. This occurred in the theater section of the union. The theater is under construction.

There is no word on the extent of damage at this time.

The fire did start in a wall. According to the firefighter "It started in a wall. We had a report of a worker that was doing some cutting and it got into a shaft ... from that cutting procedure that he had done... and burned up through a shaft in the wall into the attic space."

@UWMadisonPolice tweeted the following: Fire incident at Memorial Union. Many roads shut down for crews. Please avoid the area.

@UWMadison tweeted the following: Fire this morning in theater of Memorial Union. No injuries. People asked to avoid area.

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