Brush fire outside Oak Hall delays classes

Oak Hall was evacuated at about 3 p.m. Wednesday when a brushfire near the building sounded the fire alarm.

Deputy fire chief Greg Priest said fire was lit near an HVAC intake of the building, which drew in some of the smoke from the fire. This is what tripped the fire alarm.

Priest said there were numerous 911 calls from the many witnesses outside Oak when the fire started. University of Connecticut Fire Department personnel were dispatched at 3:09 p.m. and arrived on the scene three minutes later.

No injuries were reported and there were “no hazards inside the building at any point in time,” Priest said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Priest said he hopes that some in the crowd watching the fire will come forward with information.

Oak Hall was reopened for classes at about 3:40 p.m.

Students in Oak at the time reported smelling the smoke and some on the western side of the building could see the blaze from their classrooms.

“We were having class and we all just started saying that it smelled like wood burning,” said Michael Lanza, sixth semester economics major. “We could see clouds of smoke from the window.”

Priest said the recent sunny, dry weather has left the area at an increased fire danger.

“We’re in a red flag warning right now,” he said. “So obviously the chance of a fire is increased. Students need to be aware of smoking dangers and be vigilant.”