Campus, News

COM building fire leads to evacuation, class suspension

Activities in the Boston University College of Communication at 640 Commonwealth Ave. have been suspended while Boston Fire and Police officers responded to a three-alarm fire that started in the third floor WTBU radio station Friday morning.

A three-alarm fire is one which includes 20 fire trucks and 80 to 100 firefighters.

The university sent out a BU alert to students at around 9 a.m., telling them to avoid the area near the building until further notice.

Steve Morash, the director of BU Emergency Management, confirmed that there were three alarms and that the Boston Fire Department sent four trucks to the scene.

“They’ve got three alarms, they’ve got a lot of man power here checking the building, they’re checking inside for smoke and any extension into the walls,” Morash said. “It was in a radio studio up on the third floor, I believe.”

According to BFD spokesperson Steve MacDonald, five people were sent to the hospital to be examined for smoke inhalation — one Boston University Police Department officer, one BFD firefighter and three BU students. At press time, the school was closed and it is up to BU to decide when it will reopen.

“No one can predict fire,” MacDonald said. “We are not aware of any code violation, and BU runs a good property.”

According to MacDonald, the biggest problem was the smoke. The smoke is toxic because of the sound-proofing material on the wall in the recording studio. Without a window to ventilate the smoke, it spread it the entire third floor of the building.

BFD estimated $500,000 worth of damage.

“The whole section of radio studios were in smoke,” MacDonald said.

Samantha Cote, a sophomore involved with BUTV, said they were evacuated from the studio while filming.

“We didn’t know if it was actually a fire or what was happening,” she said. “The other show next to us got a call from someone in the radio and said it was an actual fire. We evacuated through the side stairs.”

Giovanna Fernandes, a senior in COM, said, filming in Studio West was interrupted and there was visible smoke on their way out of the studio.

“We were just filming in Studio West and we were trying to get our news when the fire alarm when off,” she said. “None of us took it seriously at first, but when we opened the door we saw smoke.”

In an email to COM students, COM registrar Ryan Thurston told students to pay attention to BU Alerts for information on retrieving their belongings.

“If you still have belongings in the building, please pay attention to BU Alerts, as information on retrieving your belongings will be sent through that service,” he wrote. “We are taking great care to make sure all valuables are safe.”

According to the email, all classes scheduled in the COM building for Friday have been canceled. Other classes in other buildings are being held as scheduled.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority suspended Green Line service on the B branch between the Kenmore and Packard’s Corner Stations at around 9:20 a.m. due to the fire, Massachusetts Department of Transportation spokesperson Eric Martinez confirmed in an emailed statement. Service was resumed around 9:40 a.m. with minor delays.

Heather Goldin, Samantha J. Gross and Alex Li contributed to the reporting of this article.

Note: This is a developing story. 

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