October 4, 2023

Battery explodes; sending up smoke, turns on sprinkling system

Lithium batteries have been banned in aircrafts for years because of the potential for combustion. Is that done out of an abundance of caution? The Utah State University Eastern community found out how dangerous it is.

In the early afternoon hours on Friday, October 1, a camera battery experienced a charging failure and started a small fire in the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center. The fire was mostly contained to the office spaces on the second floor. The fire prevention system kicked into action and the building sprinkler system was activated, putting out the fire and causing water damage in the meantime.

The student center was closed shortly after the incident took place and remained closed for the rest of the weekend. It partially reopened on Monday, October 4, with some cleaning and repairs still taking place in the building.

Kevin Hurst, the Director of Student Services spoke on the incident, noting that efforts are being taken to reopen fully as soon as its deemed safe to do so. “We are working through the aftermath of the fire and look to have the areas impacted by the fire reopened as soon as possible.”

No one was injured during the incident. The building was evacuated by the campus police and safety crew, along with help from the Price City fire department. Hurst said, “We greatly appreciate the quick response by the fire department, campus security, and all the emergency professionals in the area. I want to thank them for their quick response and amazing work. They were very efficient.”

The damages are estimated to cost roughly $7,000 and will likely take up to a month to correct. In the meantime, students are still able to visit the JLSC and will have access to the cafeteria and Eagles Grill.

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