Chemistry Building opens for fall classes

Western Today staff

Western’s Karen W. Morse Hall (Chemistry Building), where a fire occurred on Aug. 25, is reopening in time for the start of fall quarter classes on Sept. 24.

The fire, which was confined to a lab on the third floor of the Chemistry Building, led to an evacuation of the building. Sprinklers in the building put out the fire. No injuries have been reported.

The building had been closed since the fire but all classrooms, offices and labs – with the exception of the third floor lab where the fire started – will be open for the start of classes. Restoration work on the fire-damaged lab is continuing.

Western President Bruce Shepard praised the rapid response to and recovery from the fire.

“First, I’d like to thank the Bellingham Fire Department for their rapid response, as well as their diligent efforts through the years, to keep our campus safe,” Shepard said. “Many of Western’s faculty and staff worked extremely long hours to ensure that the Chemistry Building – less than a month after the fire – was ready to open in time for fall classes. I applaud their hard work, dedication and commitment to the University.”

The cost of damage to the building is estimated up to $1.9 million, which includes cleanup, restoration and replacement of equipment and materials. The university will be seeking funding from a state emergency fund to help pay for the capital costs of the project. Non-capital costs will be funded from university reserves.

The university hired emergency recovery and restoration contractor Belfor for the project, and a crew from Belfor has worked closely with university personnel to clean up and repair damage to the building.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - 10:55am