News

Sawdust smoke causes alarm

Doherty Hall was evacuated Wednesday night after reports of a fire in the lower levels of the building. (credit: Jonathan Leung/Assistant Photo Editor) Doherty Hall was evacuated Wednesday night after reports of a fire in the lower levels of the building. (credit: Jonathan Leung/Assistant Photo Editor)

What many students believed to be a fire in the lower levels of Doherty Hall last Wednesday evening turned out to be circulating sawdust emerging from the exhaust system in the building.

Fire engines and police cars were seen at the service road around 9 p.m. near the base of Doherty Hall and on Frew Street near Baker Hall.

The building was evacuated and all events and meetings being held in the building for the evening were cancelled.

Although the smoke emanating from the building made the incident seem like a fire, it was later reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Pittsburgh city fire fighters found no fire in Doherty Hall.

Deputy City Fire Chief Jerry Hirschfeld reported that the exhaust system in Doherty began circulating sawdust through the building.

According to Matt Finlay, a junior creative writing major, the supposed fire interrupted a Carnival Committee meeting.

Nick Chisholm, a chemical engineering Ph.D. student, said, “I was in the building and we smelled smoke,” adding that he noticed a strange smell when he was grading papers in the upstairs portion of the building.

Daniel Campos Zamora, a sophomore art and psychology double major, saw what he believed to be smoke coming from the dust collection system of a CNC milling machine, which automates the milling of metal materials, on the C level of Doherty.

“There was the smell of something burning for a while, and we asked if we should pull the alarm,” Zamora said.

He contacted campus security and was advised to sound the fire alarm.

The university has not released an official statement on the incident.