The Student Recreation Center at the University of Oregon has been re-opened after a brief evacuation earlier this evening. Around 5:25 p.m. fire alarms went off in the building when a student on the basketball court hit a sprinkler head with a ball, flooding the court and tripping the alarm system.
According to SRC staff, basketball courts 2 and 3 will remain closed for the remainder of the night for the assessment of water damage to the wood floor.
Senior Patrick Dougherty was playing basketball on the easternmost court of the SRC when the alarm was tripped by patrons on the other half of the court.
“Somebody hit the sprinkler with the basketball,” Dougherty said. “There was black water…a lot of it.”
Following the alarm, patrons were evacuated from the building and instructed to wait across the street as the Eugene Fire Department and UOPD arrived to assess the scene. After fifteen minutes, students were allowed back in the building to access lockers and work out in the weight rooms, upstairs cardio and pool areas.
According to Eugene Fireman John Ticer, the dark, rancid smelling water that initially flowed out of the pipes can be attributed to the infrastructure of the building.
“The pipes that are in the building are iron, so they oxidize,” Ticer said. “It smells kind of bad, and it’s black, and that’s normal.”
Ticer reports that after the sprinkler was fixed, the scene posed no threat to SRC patrons.
“The biggest concern now is just going to be getting the water out of the wooden floor so that it doesn’t warp,” he said upon leaving the scene.
According to Facility Manager Pauline Tran, this was the second alarm to sound at the SRC in recent months. In her opinion, facility managers and staff reacted quickly and efficiently, handling the situation while avoiding student hazards.
“It’s just a matter of getting people to respond seriously and getting people out of the building,” Tran said. “As far as me and the rest of the staff. I’m proud of what we did and how we responded.”
Although it is standard practice to evacuate the SRC in case of alarm, administrative reaction to the sprinklers aggravated some patrons.
“There’s no reason to close the gym. That’s one spot of the gym,” UO Professor Emeritus Ken Liberman said. “To kick everybody out — that’s stupid.”