By Patrick Cowles
Daily Titan Asst. News Editor
Smoke triggered a fire alarm in Dan Black Hall Sunday at 11:45 p.m. University Police and the fire department responded within minutes of the alarm, entering a smoky hallway headed toward room 149, a research laboratory.
When responders arrived in the room, no fire awaited them, only smoke and subsequent damage to the laboratory.
Brian K. Barnes, communications project coordinator with University Police, described the smoke damage as â€œsmolderingâ€ based upon photographs. Indicating something was burning, but without flame.
University Police initially believed a Bunsen burner may have been left on within the laboratory, but no natural gas is fed into the Dr. Peter de Lijser Photochemistry Research Laboratory, said Sue Fisher, Cal State Fullertonâ€™s Campus Radiation Safety Officer.
â€œIâ€™m sure that itâ€™s not a Bunsen burner, there is no Bunsen burner used in that part of the lab,â€ Fisher said.
Fisher and Steven Murray, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, believe the smoke was caused due to an electrical short within a thermal regulation device used to gauge the temperature of a heating device inside the lab.
â€œApparently a short occurred in a thermal regulation device. Some mineral oil heated up and caused some smoke,â€ said Murray.
So far, the investigation has not determined the cause of the short since a number of reasons could lead to smoldering, Fisher said.
â€œWe are analyzing this (the situation) to see how we can prevent this type of activity,â€ said Murray.
However â€œsmolderingâ€ damage is indicative of an electrical fire, added Fisher.
â€œThose kind of things are really difficult to predict and prevent from happening,â€ Fisher said.
A student also contacted the fire department, informing authorities that smoke had built up in the lab as the student returned to the lab to study, Murray said.
Murray added that students and faculty involved with the college use the labs 24 hours a day and that safety is a priority.
â€œWe work very hard in the college to make sure we are doing everything in a safe and accurate way,â€ said Murray. Murray added incidents such as this are rare.
Sources indicated damage to the lab is minimal and the smoke was localized to one area of the lab.
â€œImpact to the lab was relatively minor,â€ stated Fisher.
The surrounding container for the thermal-regulating device is fireproof, preventing any flames from further damaging the lab and its equipment, stated Murray.
Murray described the incident as a minor fire due to apparent equipment failure that resulted in some scorching of walls, a nearby door, and some damage to custom built glassware.
A wall and the door for the lab sustained the most damage, but will only require fresh paint to restore.
Murray added that ceiling tiles will also need to be repainted.
A motivational poster was also scorched by the smoke.
Lab 149 remained closed Monday, with a single piece of yellow caution tape draped across it.
â€œFortunately it was very small (the fire) and we got an excellent response from the campus police and the Fire Department,â€ said Fisher.
Kymberly Snew contributed to this article.