Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

SWAU

September 4, 2009

Fire damages SWAU radio station

Keene firefighters are crediting natural causes, probably lightning, for a Thursday night fire that damaged a building on the Southwestern Adventist University campus, said Capt. Jake Hopps of the Keene Fire Department.

The building houses 88.3 KJCR, the university-run radio station.

The incident occurred at about 9:30 p.m. Randy Yates, assistant professor of communication, who was the only person in the building at the time, managed to escape without injury.

The fire knocked the radio station off the air for the time being.

Yates, working late in his office, said he felt a pop under his feet when lightning struck.

“Some of the lights went out, but some stayed on,” Yates said. “My computer also went out. I thought it was probably a breaker and went to check the closet where the breaker box is, which is when I could smell something like wood burning.”

Yates pulled down the attic steps and saw smoke and flames. He left the building and called 911.

Hopps arrived on scene with Keene firefighter Ryan Neighbors and Lt. Brad Fortune to find smoke and fire showing from the south eave of the building’s attic.

Keene firefighters made an interior attack and held the blaze to the attic until Alvarado firefighters arrived to provide horizontal ventilation through the gable, relieving much of the heat and smoke, which allowed firefighters to extinguish the fire, Hopps said.

Cleburne and Briar Oaks firefighters also provided assistance, Hopps said.

The fire was contained about 90 percent to the attic, Hopps said, with smoke and water damage to the rest of the structure.

Firefighters managed to salvage the majority of equipment, Hopps said.

University officials are still assessing damage to the building and the remaining equipment, according to a press release.

Officials hope to have the radio station back on air soon, Yates said.

“I’m thankful that I was here when this happened, because we could have lost the whole building and all of the radio personnel and communication faculty could have lost their offices,” Yates said.

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