The Columbus Division of Fire responded to fire alarms at Scott Laboratory two separate times Monday night due to an outpouring of steam from underneath the building. The building was evacuated on both occasions.
The first incident occurred around 7 p.m. Steam was coming from an open valve beneath the building and set off the alarm, which automatically calls the fire department, said Brock Smith, a second-shift plumber with Ohio State Facilities, Operations and Development, who responded to both incidents.
The second incident occurred around 8:10 p.m. and was caused by steam coming out of safety valves, creating a huge plume of steam blowing up more than a story high from the underground vent on the north side of the building.
Smith said the steam is generated by McCracken Power Plant, which is located a few blocks away. He added that a backup in the underground steam system had likely led to the outpouring of steam.
“There is no immediate safety concern,” Columbus Division of Fire Captain Brian Williams said.
Smith said there was no safety concern in either situation, but that the building was evacuated as a precaution due to the alarms going off.
Columbus Division of Fire also was called to Scott Laboratory on Nov. 8 for a small fire in the Turbulence and Combustion Research Lab within the building.
Peter Bonavita, a fifth-year in mechanical engineering, was in class Monday when the alarm went off. He said neither he nor anyone else in the building had any idea what was happening.
“I could kind of tell something felt hot and swampy as I was coming downstairs,” he said.