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Fire leaves Frist roof undamaged

The fire Thursday night, which burned on the roof of the Frist Campus Center for more than 35 minutes, is not expected to delay the building's construction or opening this fall, campus center director Paul Breitman said Friday.

Keith Stanisce, senior vice president of the Barr & Barr Builders, Inc. — the company performing the renovation — said the fire had burned some materials on the roof, but had not penetrated the structure.


"There's no hindrance to our schedule," he said. "We did have some cleanup to do today and the roofer had to buy some new materials, but he's already resumed his work."

The fire was contained to a pile of roofing insulation on the southeast corner of the building, according to Stanisce. "It was contained to a 15 [ft.] by 15 [ft.] area. There was no fire under or next to that small area," he said.

The insulation was stored on a slab of concrete that prevented the fire from spreading, according to Public Safety fire marshall Bob Gregory. "The insulation is sheets of pressed wood that has to stay very dry," he said, adding that dry wood fiber catches fire quickly.

Though the construction workers were applying hot tar to the roof throughout the day, the tar is not believed to have played a role in the fire, Gregory said. "There was no tar involved in the fire, just the roofing material," he commented.

"The roofers were using tar up there, but in a completely different area than where the fire occurred," Stanisce said.

Water damage to the roof and lower levels of the building from fire hoses was also minimal, according to Breitman. "It wasn't watertight yet so it didn't do any damage," he said, adding that the water used to combat the fire was no different than a hard rain.


After the fire was detected, students and faculty — who were working and studying in the completed sections of the campus center and in neighboring Jones Hall — were evacuated from the building, according to Breitman.

The construction company pays particular attention to safety on construction sites, according to Stanisce. "We're very aware of safety concerns," he said. "The fire chief even commented how many fire extinguishers we had on hand."

Breitman cited the response of the Princeton Fire Department and Public Safety and the preparedness of the construction company as the principal reasons the fire did so little damage.

"I'm very impressed with the work of the Princeton Fire Department," Breitman said. "Public Safety was really good and had things under control. The builders have been on top of everything with codes. Everyone has been very professional."

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