Investigation Continues into Cause of Fire at UW Medical Sciences Building

Thursday, February 28, 2013 - 9:39am

City of Madison fire investigators continue working to determine the exact cause of this morning's fire at the Medical Sciences Building at 1300 University on the UW-Madison campus.

The fire originated in a lab on the 4th floor at the rear of the building. Firefighters were dispatched shortly after 8:00 this morning in response to a building fire alarm. Engine Company 4 responded to the University Avenue side of the building and observed smoke from the roof. When they found no fire in that area of the building, other crews were directed to the rear of the building (Linden St. side). Due to the location, age and size of the structure, a third alarm was called.

Once the fire was located, knockdown took place within minutes, at 8:44 a.m., with the fire extinguished by 9 a.m.
Fire damage was confined to several rooms on the 4th floor, but smoke damage spread to multiple floors.

What was earlier thought to be activated sprinklers turned out to be a failure of water lines above the ceiling that sprayed water into the fire room. That area of the building is not sprinklered.

Firefighters activated some alarms after they entered the building to spur evacuation. Alarms did not sound in all areas of the massive structure, formerly the UW Hospital.

Firefighters performed overhaul to ensure there was no extension into walls or ceilings. Crews remained on scene to ventilate the smoke for several hours after the fire was extinguished.

Investigators remain on scene, where part of the building has been sealed off. University officials are calculating damages, and working with staff and students regarding access to the building.

  • Lori Wirth, (608) 266-5947