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Office of News & Public Affairs

University Addresses Damage Caused By Weekend Fires in Gasson and Stokes Halls

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (11-10-13)--Boston College Police and the Newton Fire Department are investigating three small fires apparently set in Gasson and Stokes halls Saturday evening. No one was injured, but the North wing of the fourth floor of Stokes Hall sustained smoke and water damage caused by the fire and the activated sprinkler system.

Officials from Facilities Management said that several offices in the North wing will be closed for repairs as a result of the damage, and that classes held in the two classrooms on the fourth floor will be relocated to Carney Hall. Staff and several firms that specialize in fire clean up were working throughout the day and evening to restore the offices.

Boston College Police Chief and Director of Public Safety John King described the fires as suspicious in nature and asked members of the BC community to provide BCPD with any information they may have.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation. King added that BCPD and/or Newton Fire officials will remain in the building until the fire alarm system is reactivated.

Terence Leahy, director of engineering and energy management in Facilities Management, said that the professional cleaning firm Pro Care is on site to clean soot from the walls on the fourth floor of the North wing of Stokes Hall and to assist in cleaning books damaged by smoke and water. Leahy said that graduate student area 420 A-D in Stokes Hall sustained the most damage, and books and belongings from the area were relocated to More Hall where they will be cleaned during the next several days. He said that all occupants of Stokes Hall could access their offices on Monday, but several offices in the affected areas would require additional attention throughout the coming week.

Vice President for Facilities Daniel Bourque said that while most of the effort will be on the fourth floor of the North wing of Stokes Hall, there are some isolated areas on the third and second floors and the Pulse conference room on the first floor that will require some minor work. “There is quite a bit of work that will occur in Stokes Hall throughout this week,” said Bourque. “The scope will be to dry the spaces affected by water from the sprinkler system, wipe all surfaces and books as needed and patch and paint sheetrock where walls were opened up. It is important to stress, however, that the building is safe to occupy during this cleanup period.

“We also will have contractors repairing the ceilings and replacing carpet over the next several days and we will need to replace office cubicles for at least 5 stations in Stokes 420 A-E.”

Bourque said his office is working with College of Arts & Sciences Dean David Quigley to assist faculty and staff affected by the fire and to help coordinate temporary assignments as needed. “There are a number of offices on the North wing of the fourth floor that need to be completely emptied and others that we will clean with the contents in place,” said Bourque. “We will give the occupants the option of emptying their offices themselves, if they so desire. It is our hope, however, that faculty will be able to gather their necessary papers and belongings before 1:00 p.m. on Monday so we can begin removing the damaged materials and excess books. We will adjust our activity as necessary to try to accommodate the faculty and departments as much as possible.”

Bourque said that staff members from ITS will also be available to assist with computer issues in the affected areas.

“We are working hard to return operations to normal as soon as possible, but we ask for the community’s patience and assistance as we deal with this cleanup process,” said Bourque.

--Office of News & Public Affairs