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Authorities probe 3 'suspicious' fires that damaged classrooms, offices at Boston College

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  November 11, 2013 01:58 PM

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Authorities are investigating three small “suspicious” fires apparently set inside academic buildings at Boston College on Saturday night, damaging classrooms and offices, university officials said.

Two of the fires were set in the north wing of the fourth floor of Stokes Hall, activating a sprinkler system in the building and causing smoke and water damage to sections of the $78-million facility that opened 11 months ago.

Several offices and two classrooms there will be closed until repairs can be made, BC officials said in a statement.

Other isolated areas on the third, second and first floors of Stokes Hall will need some “minor” repairs, the statement said.

Another fire set inside Gasson Hall Saturday was quickly extinguished and caused no damage, campus spokesman Jack Dunn said.

No injuries were reported, according to the statement.

John King, chief of Boston College Police and public safety director, said in the statement that the cause of the fires remains under investigation. But, he said authorities believe the fires were set and that they are “suspicious in nature.”

He asked anyone with information to contact BC Police or the Newton Fire Department.

Several firms that specialize in fire clean-up have been assisting BC staff to restore offices and classrooms that were damaged, the statement said.

Classes affected by the closures will be relocated to another building, Carney Hall, the statement said. University officials will work to find temporary space affected staff and faculty can use while their offices are repaired.

“There is quite a bit of work that will occur in Stokes Hall throughout this week,” said a statement from Daniel Bourque, vice president for facilities at BC. “The scope will be to dry the spaces affected by water from the sprinkler system, wipe all surfaces and books as needed and patch and paint sheetrock where walls were opened up.”

“We also will have contractors repairing the ceilings and replacing carpet over the next several days and we will need to replace office cubicles for at least 5 stations in Stokes,” Bourque said.

“It is important to stress, however, that the building is safe to occupy during this cleanup period,” he added. “We are working hard to return operations to normal as soon as possible, but we ask for the community’s patience and assistance as we deal with this cleanup process.”

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at mjrochele@gmail.com. Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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