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May 31, 2004

Fire in Sinsheimer doused by new sprinkling system

By Jim Burns

A fire in Sinsheimer Laboratories late Saturday afternoon was contained to
a single lab by a sprinkling system that was installed after a blaze in the
same building two years ago caused millions of dollars of damage. No one
was injured during Saturday's incident, which resulted in significantly
less smoke, water, and equipment damage than occurred in the January 2002

A heat-sensing device near the origin of the fire, in the same fourth-floor laboratory where the blaze began two years ago, activated the new sprinkling system in addition to alerting UCSC fire crews.

Campus Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) crews were in the biology and biochemistry building late into the night on Saturday; they reported that the fire released no hazardous materials.

On Tuesday morning, campus personnel were still assessing the damage and
its impact on building occupants near the fire. EH&S director Buddy Morris said crews have already begun drying the south wing of the building, the area of the building that sustained water damage. The plan was to accelerate the drying process by circulating hot air throughout the wing. "We're hoping we can get the building sufficiently dry by next week," Morris said.

A California Department of Forestry investigator, who was also on the scene, believes the fire was caused by a small "water bath" on a counter in the lab of Manuel Ares Jr., professor of biology.

"The official report is several days away," said Tom Vani, vice chancellor for Business and Administrative Services. "Given that this is the second fire in this lab, we are undertaking a thorough review of this situation and our safety practices," he added.

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