A small brush fire outside the Student Center caused the center to be evacuated a few minutes after noon on Thursday, Aug. 27. Campus police arrived on the scene quickly and instructed evacuees to clear the immediate area around the fire as they set-up a safety perimeter.
There was no immediate danger to people in the Student Center or outside, but the center was evacuated as an obvious safety precaution.
Fire trucks arrived on the scene about 12:20 p.m. to contain the small blaze, which was consuming landscape materials and small bushes on the southern side of the Student Center. By 12:30 p.m., the fire was completely extinguished and people were allowed back into the Student Center, where students resumed their normal lunch routine.
There was no structural damage to the building since the stone and brick exterior withstood the short, intense blaze with ease. Marks of smoke, however, were visible on the light-colored stone.
The official cause of the fire is unknown, but it is suspected that a discarded lit or smoldering cigarette butt ignited the landscaping mulch.
Editorial note to smokers: Pinch the lit ash out of your cigarette, step on the lit ash until it’s fully extinguished, then discard the non-burning butt in a proper trash receptacle. Don’t toss the lit butt into dry mulch, grass, or any other combustible area; that might cause fires like this one at the Student Center. Also, don’t toss the butt into a trash can unless you’ve removed all burning substance from it first.
Editorial note to NSU Police, Norfolk Fire Dept. and Student Center employees and occupants: Good job! The entire incident from start-to-finish only took 25 minutes and people were back to business. What could’ve become a serious situation turned out to be a minor incident because everyone concerned did what they were supposed to do…and did it well.