Second electrical fire damages GW building

An electrical fire caused smoke damage in the basement of the anthropology department’s G Street office Thursday evening, the second fire on campus in two days.

Thursday’s fire in the 2114 G St. townhouse ignited after the electrical failure of the motor that generates air into the building’s sprinkler system, said Steve Lowe, the facilities department project manager who surveyed the damaged area.

The day before, an electrical fire in the basement of Bell Hall forced the evacuation of five academic buildings after Potomac Electric and Power Company shut off power Wednesday afternoon to repair the wiring.

The Bell Hall fire sent fumes into nearby buildings such as Lisner, Stuart, Corcoran, and Samson halls, but Thursday’s fire was contained within the anthropology department’s G Street office.

Thursday’s fire caused mostly smoke damage in the basement, said Jonathan Higman, anthropology department secretary.

“There was substantial smoke in the basement,” Higman said. “(But) by the next morning, the incident was pretty much finished.”

Officials in GW facilities and construction departments said they see no connection between the two fires because different electrical power sources supply power to the buildings.

“It could be the extreme outside conditions; the heat and the increased air conditioning loads draw on the gear,” said Warren Yaun, construction manager in the facilities office. “That’s not the only reason, but that can contribute to the problem that occurred.

“One was an electrical motor and the other was a switch gear, they’re not related to each other,” Yaun said.

Power was restored Friday to the anthropology building, but power generators on the Quad are still pumping electricity to the buildings affected by Wednesday’s fire.

Bernard Russell, supervising engineer in the facilities department, said the rewiring of the damaged switch board that caused the Bell Hall fire should return power to the buildings this week.

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