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The chem lab, the chem lab,
the chem lab was on fire
By Erin Conway-Smith
Last Tuesday's lab fire in the Chemistry Building has resulted in structural and equipment damages that may cost more than $100,000 to repair a significant increase over earlier estimates.
Damages to the organic chemistry lab, originally estimated at $30,000, will likely increase to more than $100,000, said Robert Lipson, chair of the chemistry department.
The increased amount reflects the cost of equipment damaged in the fire.
Dave Riddell, associate VP-physical plant, estimated structural damage alone may cost between $60,000 and $80,000.
Riddell said Western is insured up to a certain point and physical plant will repair all structural damage, a process that could take between four and six weeks.
Lipson said graduate students who worked in the lab are involved in the clean-up process, which is currently underway in the room next door to where the fire occurred.
"A lot of glassware and equipment in the lab is being examined for damage," he said. "They're the experts they can decide if the equipment needs to be replaced."
Lipson said the lab will be renovated and he expects it to re-open in a month's time.
"We're very happy that the fire was locally severe, but has not affected any other parts of the building," he said.
While graduate research was disrupted for a short period of time, no undergraduate classes were cancelled as a result of the fire, he added.
Don Stringle, one of five graduate students who worked in the lab, said his research has been temporarily disrupted. He added he is assisting in the lengthy cataloguing of all the equipment in the lab at the time of the fire.
"Most of the glassware is salvageable, the electronic equipment is not," he said, noting extensive smoke damage to most of the equipment.
Stringle said he was in an office down the hall from the lab, located on the second floor of the Chemistry Building, at the time the fire occurred last Tuesday evening.
Firefighters responded to the blaze, which was the result of an explosion caused by two canisters of ether a highly flammable chemical substance.
No one was injured in the fire.