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Iowa State University cooling system back in operation after Thursday fire

By: - August 24, 2023 2:41 pm

A fire at Iowa State University's power plant is causing classes to go online and students to head home for the weekend.

Iowa State University’s cooling system is back in operation after a fire caused by equipment failure shut down air conditioning across campus Thursday afternoon.

The university announced Friday morning that crews were able to repair the system sooner than initially expected, but it will take time for campus buildings to cool to regular temperatures. Friday classes have been moved online or canceled, and classes will return to normal Monday.

There may be temporary disruptions as repairs continue, the announcement stated.

A fire at the university’s campus power plant disrupted cooling systems Thursday, causing the university to move classes online and encourage students who can to head home for the weekend. Thursday activities were canceled. Crews had fixed two of the four chillers for the cooling system by Thursday evening.

The Ames Fire Department responded to a fire at 10:44 a.m. Thursday in the basement of the power plant, according to a news release. Power plant staff had previously put out a small fire caused by equipment malfunction, but while firefighters examined the scene complete equipment failure caused oil to ignite and the fire to grow quickly.

Fire crews completely extinguished the fire by 11:42 a.m. There were no injuries reported and no estimate of damage.

“This fire was particularly difficult to fight because the situation changed very quickly as the equipment’s operating oil provided a large fuel source,” said Ames Fire Chief Rich Higgins in the release. “Fighting a fire in the lower level of the facility coupled with the exceptionally hot temperatures created challenges, but Ames firefighters did an outstanding job.”

Iowa State University welcomed thousands of students back to campus Monday for the start of the fall semester. Temperatures have reached triple digits multiple days during the first week, and an excessive heat warning was in place across the state until Thursday evening.

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Brooklyn Draisey
Brooklyn Draisey

Brooklyn Draisey is a Report for America corps member covering higher education. She previously worked for the Quad-City Times and The Gazette covering topics ranging from business to culture.