On Campus

Fire at UManitoba causes partial campus evacuation

Extent of damage unknown as labs burn in spectacular fire

Students and staff at the University of Manitoba were ordered to leave the campus Saturday after a fire broke out in one of the buildings.

Thick smoke could be seen pouring from the upper floors of the Duff Roblin building, which houses the university’s Psychology Department and zoology labs.

Const. Jason Michalyshen, a police spokesman, said emergency officials had ordered people to leave the area because the fire appeared to be “significant”.

“We’re evacuating a fairly large area within the university. We have emergency personnel on scene. Right now, it looks like a fairly involved fire,” he said.

There were also media reports that firefighters were concerned about the possibility of asbestos burning in the building and had requested an inventory of any chemicals stored in the labs.

Emergency crews were called to the building just after noon local time.

Stephen Sumka, a fire platoon chief, said by mid-afternoon, firefighters had got the blaze under control.

“We’ve basically got 20 pieces of apparatus at the fire right now, which is approximately 75-80 firefighters,” he said.

Sumka said it appeared that the blaze was confined to the Duff Roblin building, but there were reports that people in a student residence nearby were among the first told to leave the area.

Off-duty firefighters were called in to help cover other areas of the city, while dozens of their colleagues battled the fire on the university campus.

Damage to the building appeared to be extensive, Sumka said.

No injuries were immediately reported due to the blaze.

Fire officials urged motorists and pedestrians to stay away from the area.

But police were flooded with calls from worried parents wanting to pick up their children.

Police set up an area on campus where they could do that.

About 120 students from area schools who were on campus for a career program were to be transported back to those schools so parents could pick them up.

According to the University of Manitoba website, the building was named after the province’s former premier and also houses a zoology museum.

– The Canadian Press


Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.