CSU Fresno -- September 22, 2003
is Cause of Sept. 8 Fire At Fresno State; Temporary Buildings for Student
Services Going Up
The Fresno Fire Department has determined that arson was the cause
of the Sept 8. fire
that damaged a wing of the Lab School at California State University,
Fresno -- the third oldest building on campus containing the first classrooms
built in 1953.
University Police Chief Michael Dunlap today received the official report
completed by FFD Fire Investigator Rod Russell, who conducted the investigation
in conjunction with the State Fire Marshal and the University Police
“The fire investigator has determined that the fire was deliberately
set,” Dunlap said. “The University Police Department is
continuing its active criminal investigation. Additional details of
the report will be released once the criminal investigation is complete.”
He said potential witnesses are being interviewed and that anyone with
additional information is encouraged to contact University Police Investigator
Gilbert Washington at 278-2132. Nearly 2,000 students were without classes
after the early morning two-alarm fire on Sept. 18 caused the shutdown
of the 50-year-old Lab School for two days and the disruption of some
student services such as tutoring.
Classes have resumed in six of the seven classrooms in the Lab School
but one, room 128, was damaged beyond use and 10 classes being held
there this semester had to be reassigned
to other classrooms on campus.
Faculty offices for the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf
Studies have reopened while the Speech and Hearing Clinic is expected
to reopen Monday. Temporary buildings are now being erected west of
the Leon S. Peters Business Building on the east side of the campus
for three students services programs that have lost offices their offices
as a result of the fire: the Learning
Resource Center, Student
Support Services and the Ronald
E. McNair Program.
Tutoring resumed Sept. 15 while some services have been curtailed or
limited until the temporary offices can be opened, which should be ready
by the end of this month, according to Robert Boyd, Plant Operations
At the fire scene, clean-up of the affected wing continues through most
of next week. Precautionary asbestos and lead abatement operations are
expected to be complete by Monday, said Lisa Kao, the university’s
environmental quality manager.
Insurance claims adjustors are still conducting their review of the
damage. Final damage figures are not available, pending reports from
structural engineers who are now assessing the integrity of key support
beams, reports Steve Martinez, director of environmental health and
The insured value of the entire Lab School complex is $4.7 million.
Since a third of the complex was damaged, university officials estimated
the damage at about $1.5 million to the structure only (content not
included) but caution that this is only a general ballpark figure until
insurance adjustors submit their report.
“Once we get those estimates in, probably late next week, then
we can start to make some decisions about rebuilding, demolition or
other options," Boyd said.
BACKGROUND: The Sept. 8 fire was reported at 2:52
a.m. by two newspaper delivery people and a campus custodian, with full
response by the Fresno Fire Department on the scene by 2:58 a.m. It
was centered in the central breezeway of the building near a bank of
vending machines before spreading into an attic area of the lab school's
The Fresno Fire Department contained the fire before it reached other
sections of the 18,618 square foot complex. But the entire complex was
closed while fire crews worked and power was shut off to all buildings
there as well as the adjacent University High School main building.
IMPACT: University High School reopened the next day
and six of seven classrooms used for Fresno State classes as well as
faculty offices in unaffected wings reopened within two days.
The Lab School classrooms serve several disciplines but the complex’s
primary occupants are the Department of Communicative Disorders and
Deaf Studies and its 14 faculty offices, as well two student services
offices that housed the Learning
Resource Center, Student
Support Services (Student Affairs division), and the Ronald
E. McNair Program (Graduate Studies division) with approximately
1,500 students affected by the fire. Twelve professional staff and 40
student staff who serve as tutors were affected.
Most of those services have either been curtailed or suspended until
the temporary offices can be opened, tentatively scheduled for Oct.
Only one of the seven classrooms, room 128, was damaged beyond use.
The 32-seat classroom had 10 classes scheduled in it this fall, totaling
270 students. Two student services offices received extensive fire damage
and two more received heavy smoke and water damage.
The 14 Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies faculty offices were
closed for two days, along with the department office and the Speech
and Hearing Clinic, which had 100 clients scheduled to come to campus
Sept. 8 for the first day of fall semester appointments. They were notified
that the clinic’s opening for the fall was postponed until Sept.
RELOCATION: The damaged offices, all in the central
wing, have been moved to emergency locations provided by other departments
on campus while temporary buildings are now being erected on the west
side of the Leon S. Peters Business Building on the east side of the
campus. The buildings are expected to be ready for occupation by the
end of next week.
The classes scheduled in Room 128 have since been re-assigned to other
classrooms on campus. Those re-assignments
are posted at www.FresnoStateNews.com.
LAB SCHOOL: The Lab School, built in 1953 and remodeled
in 1975, is located on Keats and Jackson Avenues on the south central
side of the campus. It is the third-oldest building on campus but since
it was the first to hold classrooms, it houses the oldest classrooms
on campus. It served as the first Fresno State Normal School at this
location and was a training laboratory for elementary school teachers.
The 18,618 square foot complex consists of four wings and one stand-alone
building. Seven classrooms of varying sizes hold 1,976 students for
the fall 2003 semester.
Contact: Tom Uribes (559) 278-5366 or 246-1717