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Fire in Kleinpell Fine Arts building causes minimal damage

February 14, 2018

A small fire started in the north stairwell of the Kleinpell Fine Arts building on Tuesday according to a press release from University Communications.

The fire began when the motor inside a heating unit near the north stairwell shorted out. The surrounding area began to fill with smoke, and the building was evacuated. The River Falls Fire Department responded to the fire while students waited outside in the snow.
At around 10:15, students and staff were told that they were allowed to return inside the building. Classes were not officially canceled, but the building was still hazy with smoke, particularly on the lower levels.

“In an abundance of caution,” the press release said, “students and staff with personal safety or respiratory concerns are asked to use their own discretion on use of the facility throughout the remainder of today.”

The Fire Department continued working to ventilate the building, but the smoke was still relatively thick in certain places.

“The smoke was bad enough that most professors in the basement dismissed their classes,” said Katie Powell, who is a UWRF student who was working in the art department office at the time. A few hours later, she said, the building still smelled like burnt plastic.

The building has since been cleared of smoke, and the heating box that caused the trouble removed from the wall. No one was hurt, and the damage appears to be minimal.