Students disrupted due to fire in Main Building fume cupboard

By Toby Holloway and Maria Mellor

A fire in the Main Building of Cardiff University caused disruption to hundreds of students last Tuesday, as they were forced to evacuate the premises.

Gathered outside both the front and back of the Main Building, staff and students watched on as two fire engines arrived at the scene to tackle the blaze, which began in a fume cupboard in one of the chemistry labs.

A statement from Cardiff University released at 5pm on the day of the fire said:

“There has been an isolated fire in a fume cupboard in Cardiff University’s Main Building this afternoon 2 May. All staff and students were evacuated safely and we are in contact with relevant emergency services and University departments.

“Main Building will remain inaccessible to staff, students and visitors for the remainder of today, apart from limited access for those that need to collect their belongings.”

The statement went on to say: “From tomorrow, 3 May, Main Building, including the Science Library, will be open as usual except for the Chemistry laboratories in rooms 1.85 to 1.89 on the first floor. The refectory (Main Building restaurant) will be closed until further notice.

“Local communications to staff and students housed in Main Building will continue from those Schools and departments involved. Please contact your School office (students) or line manager (staff) if you have any specific queries.”

The fire, though an exciting and welcome revision break for many (once it was established that no one was in danger of course), did cause some significant disruption for some.

Patrick Harrison, 22, was on his was to hand in a piece of coursework when he found himself unable to gain entrance to the Main Building.

He said: “Well they closed the library for the next couple of days, ASSL is always packed out – I mean where are we going to study?

“I’ve got a hand in time in five minutes and the whole building is closed so it’s not looking good.”

The initial evacuation affected a number of students, both undergraduate and postgraduate.

Harrison joked: “If I fail my module, someone’s gonna pay.”

Students and members of the public gathered to watch the fire service at work.

A third year English student said: “It seemed like a big kerfuffle. There were about two or three fire engines there with a big crane – I thought the whole building was going to burn down!”

It has been confirmed that the fire was small and contained, with operations returning to normal the next day with the exception of room closures.

One student told Gair Rhydd: “The room closures weren’t that bad as Professor Alleman managed to allow us all to go back in and get our stuff as long as it wasn’t in labs 1.85-1.89 as they’re directly under the fire. However some of the people who weren’t around for the opportunity to go in were stuck after that without their stuff. “

Allegedly one of the staff members had to call a lock smith to get into their house as they had left their keys behind.

The university have been applauded by students for their handling of the situation under the circumstances. Reportedly a formal inquiry is being made into the events that lead up to the fire.