Ruffin Hall reopens following Sunday evacuation

Damaged machine costs $4,000


The Office of Emergency Preparedness sent out a school-wide email Sunday evening announcing Ruffin Hall had been evacuated after the fire alarm was set off.

According to Associate Director of Maintenance Michael Merriam, a student who was using a wood router in the building’s art studio noticed that a piece of machinery was smoking, prompting shop manager Eric Schmidt to unplug the device and notify the Charlottesville Fire Department.

The machine, called a downdraft table, draws sawdust and wood shavings into its filter. Facilities Management determined the fire to be accidental.

“Apparently some sparks or hot wood shavings got caught in the machine and lit the sawdust on fire,” Merriam said.

Though no one was hurt, the costs are still being assessed. The fire set off two sprinkler heads, which may have damaged other machines.

“Folks in the wood shop [are] taking an inventory to see the extent of the damage,” Merriam said. Initial damage estimates include the $4,000 machine and replacement of the two sprinkler heads.

Opened in 2008, Ruffin, which houses the McIntire Department of Art’s studio arts program, and it is the most recent addition to the art and architecture area of buildings on Grounds. It was built to provide more studio spaces for art students and to accommodate a gallery, faculty offices and seminar rooms.

The building was reopened Monday at 8 a.m. after closure all Sunday night.

Published April 21, 2014 in News

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