Fire reported at Chemistry department

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Photos: Oliver Todd

There has been widespread disruption on campus this afternoon (Thursday) after a fire in the Chemistry department caused damage to three first-floor rooms and some voids within Chemistry B Block, forcing buildings to be evacuated and lectures to be cancelled.

The alarm was raised at 12.45pm and, according to Fire Investigation Officer Trevor Lund, around 400 people were evacuated from the building. Firefighters used hydraulic lifts and thermal imaging cameras to identify the main points of danger. The building is lined with asbestos, which is helping to retain the smoke and decrease risk of a full fire outbreak.

The majority of the fire risks have now been isolated and there have been no reported injuries thanks to the work of the onsite staff.

The fire is said to have been caused by hot tar dripping in through the roof, on which builders were working, and into a fume hood, consequently filling the department with smoke.

Seven fire engines and two unmarked police cars attended the scene, and students were pushed back from the affected area while the emergency services attempted to deal with the situation.

Third-year student Magnus Tripp told Vision that he “could see the smoke from Hes East,” while second-year Luke Sandford described the smoke as “streaming out of the building. The whole area is very smokey.”

The fire comes at a particularly inconvenient time for the University, since today sees UCAS Chemistry interviews taking place within the department.

Second-year Chemistry student Hattie Rosney was at the department earlier today, and said: “I showed a potential future York chemist and her mother to the department at about midday. She was excited about what the University had to offer, so the fire could not have happened at a worse time. The image of the department could be damaged after this.”

Lund told Vision at 2.48pm that the fire was under control and the emergency services were confident that it had been extinguished.

The fire department are now investigating the fire and its cause.

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