Auburn firefighters responded to a fire at Hargis Hall, located next to Samford Hall near the main entrance of Auburn University, just before 6 p.m. today.
According to Auburn Fire Department Battalion Chief Robert Hodge, approximately seven people were inside the building at the time. The building was evacuated and the fire was quickly extinguished. No injuries were reported.
According to Fire Chief Lee Lamar, the fire started in the attic located in the building’s steeple.
Lamar said the building’s sprinkler system activated just as firefighters entered, which along with pressure from the building smoke, caused at least one window in the steeple to shatter. The building suffered some smoke and water damage; a portion of the first floor ceiling partially collapsed onto some office desks, according to Hodge.
What caused the fire?
“We’re still investigating,” Lamar said.
Lamar wouldn’t confirm whether the investigation centered around the lighting units that illuminate the building’s steeple at night; according to building personnel, lights are turned on automatically at approximated 6:15 p.m.
“I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to the cause [of the fire] at this time,” Lamar said. “But I do believe they were doing something with lights either yesterday or today.”
Built in 1888, Hargis, one of the oldest buildings on campus, currently houses the Auburn Graduate School, Cooperative Education, and Water Resources Research Institute. The building was gutted by fire in December 1979; the steeple was so badly damaged it had to be rebuilt by referencing old photographs.
Hargis Hall is one of several university buildings that broadcasts a webcam feed. As of 7:30 p.m., the webcam was still operational though drops of water appeared to be on the lens.
UPDATE: Check out The Auburn Plainsman’s story on the fire here.
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