Humanities building emitted smoke smell


Photo by Riley Kozakar - Photo Editor

The Ventura County Fire Department outside of the Soiland Humanities Center. They were called by Campus Safety following a report of a smoke smell on the second floor of the building.

Olivia Larson & Carrollyne Aasen, Copy Editor, Managing Editor & Editor in Chief

The air conditioning unit located above rooms 236 to 240 in the Soiland Humanities Center emitted a smell of smoke. Scott C. Chiu, writing center director and associate professor of English, whose office is room 240 in the building, called Campus Safety at 1:04 p.m. on March 30 to report the smell of smoke. 

Director of Campus Safety David Hilke said that following this call from Chiu, Campus Safety went to the building.

Hilke, in an email including the incident information, said, “Campus Safety arrived shortly after the call to meet with the reporting party and to assess the situation.”

Hilke said in this email that Campus Safety called the Ventura County Fire Department at 1:14 p.m., who arrived six minutes later with six trucks. Hilke said Campus Safety Supervisor Rey Lainez pulled the building’s fire alarm to evacuate the building.

Associate Vice President of Planning & Services Ryan Van Ommeren said that the fire department took precautionary measures because of the smoke smell, including taking out the hoses, but that there were no flames to put out and no hole needed to be cut into the roof of the building. Van Ommeren said that the unit will be replaced, but the replacement might take a while. 

Van Ommeren said in an email, “The unit has a fan + wiring in the attic space above the ceiling but has the actual cooling and heating mechanism that is on the room. The issue was with the wiring to the fan. Most likely the smoke was in large part coming from electrical tape that was wrapped around the wiring.”

He also said that electricians, as an extra precaution, will use electrical tape and wire nuts, cone-devices that are placed on top of two or more wires to connect the bare wires.

“In this case there was a “short” in the system that was resulting in the wires heating up to a point that the wire nuts and electrical tape melted,” Van Ommeren said.

The fire department left campus at 2:20 p.m.