Smoke in visual arts leads to relocating classes

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Visual arts is closed until further notice because of an activated smoke alarm Dec. 3. An email from public relations said the smoke was because of a mechanical issue and facilities is working to resolve it. Until then, classes will report to Room 218 in nursing. “Students with classes in visual arts should also check Canvas for further information regarding their specific classes,” the email said. Sophia Ansari

A malfunction of the HVAC system caused the fire alert.

By Orlando Torres

Classes were moved out of the visual arts center early Dec. 3 after smoke on the second floor led to calling the San Antonio Fire Department.

Students, faculty and staff were alerted with text messages and emails at 7:47 a.m. that there was an active fire call at the building.

At 8:33 a.m. a second message said the center would be closed for the remainder of the day.

“Basically there was a mechanical issue in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system,” Janae Johnson, director of college services, said in an interview.

Both San Antonio Police and Fire departments arrived quickly, she said.

The faulty part in the HVAC system set off a smoke detector between 7-7:20 a.m., she said.

Classes were temporarily moved to the nursing and allied health complex for the remainder of the day.

“We closed the building today to give the facilities team time to get everything changed over,” she said. “The building needs to be aired out from all the smoke.”

No injuries and no major damage were reported.

The first thing the police and fire personnel did was go through the building to make sure nobody was inside or affected by the smoke, Johnson said.

She said by 8 a.m., facilities had identified the defective part and repaired the system shortly after.

“I’m thankful for SAPD and SAFD because they responded very quickly when the fire panel went off,” Johnson said. “Multiple fire trucks and officers were sent just as a precautionary just in case there was a bigger issue.”

Students should still check Canvas for the class schedules on Dec. 4, but the facilities team is expecting classes to resume in the building.

This was the second time in less than a month that a campus building has been closed because of smoke.

On the afternoon of Nov. 11, a fire was intentionally set in a trash can of a men’s bathroom on the third floor of Moody Learning Center.

Moody was closed for the rest of that day, and evening classes were moved to the second floor of the nursing complex.

No injuries were reported in the fire or the evacuation.


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