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Fire at SMC contained

Jillian Barwick | Monday, November 5, 2012

Saint Mary’s students, faculty and staff were alerted early Saturday morning of a fire in the basement of the Moreau Center for the Arts in a theatre set storage area.

Saint Mary’s security, as well as Notre Dame’s Fire Department, received the campus fire alarms simultaneously.

Gwen O’Brien, director of media relations for the College, was quick to alert the media that the fire had been contained.

“The Notre Dame Fire Department arrived to Moreau within just a couple of minutes, with the South Bend Fire Department and Clay Fire Territory responding to the alert as well,” O’Brien said. “Firefighters are investigating the cause of the fire.”

As part of the campus wide alert system, students, faculty and staff all received a community outreach notice via text, phone and email. The alert notified everyone that the building was closed until further notice due to the fire.

Senior Danielle Piscal, a resident of Opus Apartments on the campus, said she felt comforted security was so quick to alert the students.

“It’s always concerning when you see that you have a call, a text and an email from security,” Piscal said. “But it’s always good to know that they are looking out for us and letting us know that no one was injured during the fire.”

Senior Bri Tepe, a resident of LeMans Hall, just a short distance from Moreau, said she appreciates the extent of Saint Mary’s emergency alert system.

“I think it was good that we received all three different forms of communication from security,” Tepe said. “The chances of being notified are more likely with all three rather than just a phone call. So many people have email on their phones these days so it makes it almost impossible not to know what is going on. I definitely felt well informed.”

In the email alert, the College specified the time the fire began and reassured receivers it had been contained quickly and no one was injured. The text sent to students, faculty and staff showed the same message.

“Smoke in the building was the biggest issue,” O’Brien said. “First Response, restoration specialists, spent Saturday and Sunday at Moreau Hall using highly specialized air purification equipment to clear the entire building of the smell of smoke.”

The smell dissipated from the classrooms and the building is open for classes today, O’Brien said. The office space is also fine for use.

As of last night, the air purification equipment was still operating in the building but was set to be removed around 7 a.m. this morning before classes began. The basement storage area where the fire occurred remains closed, O’Brien said.

“It will be business as usual in Moreau tomorrow,” she said. “The musical ‘The Secret Garden’ will go on as scheduled this coming Friday and Saturday.”