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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer

Mendoza College of Business evacuated after skateboard set aflame

A battery-powered electric skateboard caught fire in the Mendoza College of Business on Monday afternoon near the door of a basement classroom.

The fire was reported around 2:20 p.m., according to University spokesperson Sue Ryan.

Students in professor Chad Harms’ Business Problem Solving (BPS) class were presenting their Deloitte case studies in room L061 when they heard a pop and noticed an orange glow through a window.

“There was a loud pop, and then plumes of gray smoke started coming in through the cracks of the door,” said Faith Sullivan, a senior marketing major who was in the classroom. “You could see this glow. It was kind of crackling at first and then there was this large pop.”

With the fire alarm triggered, a stream of black slacks and white collared shirts poured out of the Mendoza College of Business. Moments later, firefighters entered the building and pulled the smoking, charred skateboard onto the lawn to fully extinguish it.

Firefighters sprayed a skateboard that was extracted from the building.

Several members of the lacrosse team including Chris Kavanagh, Patrick Eilers and Michael Lynch were in the BPS class and saw the fire.

“Smoke was coming under the door, and there was a big orange flash,” Lynch said.

Eilers said the “explosion” sounded like a “vacuum” and he described watching the fire spread before quickly exiting.

“The fire was on the right. The exit was on the left. We were just trying to get out and get away from the smoke,” he said.

While they were evacuating, students said they saw Harms put out the fire with some assistance from Mendoza staff, using extinguishers and a water bottle. 

“Chad Harms is a hero,” Chris Zack, another student in the class, said. “He ran into the fire, past it. He grabbed the fire extinguisher. He came back, and he put the fire out.”

Several students added the skateboard outside the classroom belonged to a peer who had previously been scolded for bringing it inside the building.

After putting out the fire, Harms ushered his class into the nearby Stayer Center to finish their presentations.

According to an email from Ryan sent around 4:15 p.m., the fire caused no injuries and its cause is still under investigation. Ryan said Mendoza College of Business was temporarily closed for smoke remediation.

The College sent out an email at 5 p.m. announcing that access to the building to collect personal belongings would be available starting immediately, though the email said there would be no access to the lower level of Mendoza’s southwest wing for at least 24 hours.

Mendoza staff were working to relocate personal belongings left behind in the lower level of the southeast wing to Stayer Center Commons A, according to the College.