BU College Of Communication Catches Fire

BOSTON, 25th March - Boston Fire Department address a three alarm fire on 640 Commonwealth Avenue. (Photo by: Marwa Morgan/BUNS)
Written by BU News Service

By Torrance Latham, Michael Sol Warren and Andrea Asuaje
BU News Service

Update 5 p.m.:

The WTBU studios suffered great damage after an electrical fire broke out this morning. (Photo by Anne Donohue)

The three students who were hospitalized with smoke inhalation this morning have all been discharged from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Brookline.

Professor Anne Donohue, who specializes in radio at Boston University’s College of Communication, said the students were live on the air when they smelled smoke. Donohue visited the students in the hospital Friday afternoon after she and groups of BU officials and professors entered 640 Commonwealth Avenue to assess the damage.

Donohue called the fire a “major loss” for WTBU.

“It was all black, black and melted-looking,” she said of the radio station.

Donohue said water damage is fairly minimal. Instead, the main concerns are the large amounts of soot on the walls of the third floor and the smell. She said all who entered the building wore gas masks to protect themselves from the “horrible” smell and were accompanied by environmental specialists who were weighing whether the air quality is safe.

Although a couple of classrooms may need additional cleanup, Donohue said most of the building will be functional by Monday. Radio classes that used WTBU as part of their curriculum will need to find an alternative for an indefinite period of time. She said COM staff will meet on Monday to discuss the next steps.

Donohue also said she’s been contacted by BU COM alums all day who want to lend a helping hand in any way they can, either through fundraising or helping to salvage what is left of WTBU.

“That has been a wonderful thing,” she said. “Really a wonderful pouring of support and assistance.”

Updated 11:55 a.m.

Boston University’s College of Communication building will not reopen on Friday.

Original story:

Boston University’s College of Communication was the site of a three-alarm fire that sent three students to the hospital Friday morning.

Sophomores L.E. Charles and Zach Schiffman and freshman Maddi Gruber were hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Fire officials said that the fire caused an estimated $500,000 in damage to the building.

Firefighters responded to the fire shortly after 9 a.m. The fire was knocked down around 9:40 a.m. The firefighters stayed on the scene about an hour afterwards to ventilate hydrogen cyanide, a toxic byproduct of burning plastic.

Fire officials said that the fire started on the third floor of the building in the studio of BU’s student radio station, WTBU. Officials were unsure of the exact cause of the fire.

Spoke with Michael Doherty, Deputy Fire Chief at Boston Fire Department, about the what caused the fire at BU’s COM building this morning. #BU

Posted by Torrance Gregory Latham on Friday, March 25, 2016

BU student Caroline Rickert said that she was down the hall in the BUTV10 studio setting up for the station’s Good Morning BU broadcast when the alarms went off. She said that she is friends with the students who were working in the radio station when the fire started.

“They had soot on their faces,” Rickert said. “I talked to them and they seemed very shaken up. [Schiffman] actually didn’t have shoes on; he was just out on the cold, wet ground.”

BU graduate student Sanaz Tahernia was also in the BUTV10 studio when the alarm went off. She described the scene as smelling like “burning wires”.

Classes in the College of Communication are cancelled for the rest of the day, and BU has opened Morse Auditorium as a shelter.

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  • […] BU College Of Communication Catches Fire Professor Anne Donohue, who specializes in radio at Boston University's College of Communication, said the students were live on the air when they smelled smoke. Donohue visited the students in the hospital Friday afternoon after she and groups of BU … Read more on BU News Service […]

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