Electrical Problems Cause BISD Building Fire


POSTED: Monday, February 7, 2011 - 3:47pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 9:29am

Fire officials say old electrical wiring may have caused the weekend blaze.

Fire investigators were back out at the scene of this weekend's blaze to pinpoint what caused the building to engulf in flames on Saturday night.

Fire officials responded after an employee entered the building, turned on the lights and heard a lot of what appeared to be electrical popping and crackling.

According to Brownsville Fire Marshal, Ben Nuñez, the building was experiencing electrical problems prior to the fire. Firefighters responded to the first call.

They checked out the building and nothing was of too much concern at that time.

"The firefighters assessed with their infrared cameras, made sure everything was under control, no hot spots at the time. Our advice was to turn off all the power until the electricians got here to check out the system."

And firefighters did as they were told. When electricians got there, that's when the building caught on fire.

"When they were testing the breakers, they turned all the power back on and within five minutes time, they had a fire in one of the rooms located right next to the electrical room of the fine arts building."

Within five minutes, Nuñez says most of the James R. Murphy Center was engulfed in flames.

"There is moderate fire damage to the middle of the building. But there is pretty extensive smoke throughout the rest of it."

It took four fire units, an aerial ladder and about two hours to contain the flames. The fire was extinguished by about 9:00 p.m. Saturday.

The preliminary investigation indicates a transformer malfunction may have triggered the fire but nothing is for sure at this time.

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