Date: Thu, 10 Sep 2009 22:03:47 -0400
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Subject: Kirksville, Mo: Magruder Hall oven overheats

=46rom Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri

Magruder Hall oven overheats

Professor of Chemistry Maria Nagan walked out of her office in Magruder Hall to fill up her water bottle and ended up hunting down a smoke- filled laboratory Saturday morning. 

"We got a call of an active fire alarm at Magruder Hall at 10:31 a.m.," Kirksville Fire Chief Randy Behrens said. "We arrived at 10:36 a.m. and had everything under control by 11:40 a.m., then left the scene at 12:35 p.m. It was just smoke, no actual flames."

Nagan said she initially smelled the smoke outside of the third floor elevator. Upon inspection of the elevator and the closet next to it, she found that the smoke was coming from a vent in the ceiling. 

"I followed the vent to Dr. [Mark] Campbell's lab," Nagan said. "When I got there, the windows of the lab were all smoky. I couldn't really see anything. Then I checked the handle and it was locked, and I knocked really loud and tried to yell in to make sure no one was in there."

Once Nagan had determined no one was in the lab, she headed back to call 911, she said. On her way back, the smoke alarms went off, everyone evacuated Magruder Hall, and she called to inform Mark Campbell, professor of Agricultural Science, about his lab.

"I got a phone call and I came, and there were a bunch of fire trucks [at Magruder Hall]," Campbell said. "There was really no blaze - just a lot of smoke. The oven overheated and what they think happened is that the thermostat went out so it started heating out of control but there's a safety mechanism - a cut off switch [so] that if that happens it shuts the whole thing down - and that did not work."

After some research, Campbell found that a similar incident had happened at Oregon State in 2005. The next step for Campbell is to call the company that manufactured the ovens and find out whether they have had trouble with overheating, he said. 

Campbell said the samples in the oven were purified starch samples and were ruined in the overheating along with the oven.

"The oven is shot," Campbell said. "It's out at the University Farm. I haven't thrown it out. I want to hang onto it until everyone gives me [the] OK."

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