On the evening of Sept. 10, a fire occurred in the greenhouse behind Exley Science Center. The local Middletown Fire Department arrived on the scene promptly, putting it out and preventing it from spreading further. The fire did not cause any severe damage to the greenhouse.
The incident was reported at 7:11 pm, and by 8 pm of the same evening, it had already been contained. According to Scott Rhode, Director of Public Safety (PSAFE), the fire was extinguished quickly by the fire department, and by the time PSAFE arrived at the greenhouse, flames had already been stemmed.
“When PSAFE arrived the Fire Dept. was already on scene and the officer noted that the sprinkler system was active,” Rhode wrote in an email to the Argus. “Water was being sprayed on the interior of the greenhouse.”
Rhode noted that the origin of the fire was an oven located in the greenhouse, containing dry plant material that alighted.
“It appears that the material in the oven became overheated causing a fire within the oven,” he explained. “Smoke/heat likely activated the sprinkler system.”
Likewise, Rhode added that the Middletown Fire Marshall appeared on the scene, and is currently investigating the origins of the fire.
Students in the area, most notably students living in the Butterfields dorms, explained that they heard a loud ringing sounding multiple times throughout the evening between 7 and 8:30 pm.
“I heard it ringing off and on for about an hour, even though the fire department came quickly,” noted Grace Snyder ’20, who lives in Butterfields. “I thought it was coming from the Butts at first. I heard a friend mention it was the greenhouse later but it didn’t seem to be that big of a deal.”
Neha Srinivas ’20, who walked by the greenhouse near the time of the fire, echoed Snyder’s sentiment.
“I was walking past Hall-Atwater, and I was going to the Butts to meet some friends, and I overheard the fire alarm,” Srinivas said. “I was really wondering what was happening, and I looked like right below Hall-Atwater and saw a lot of water gushing out, so I realized that the sprinklers were on, and looked further up the road. There was a big fire engine, and I realized that there was a fire in the greenhouse.”
At the time of publication, the water has been cleared from the area. Likewise, because the extent of the damage was minimal, the greenhouse, which is used primarily by biology students and professors, has reopened.