A short-circuit in a transformer caused a smoky fire and forced the evacuation of the Health Sciences Building at West Virginia University Monday afternoon. The blaze was quickly contained and no injuries were reported.

The million-square-foot building, WVU ’s largest classroom facility, remained closed Monday evening as Morgantown firefighters and University workers cleared smoke and inspected damage to the electrical system that serves the north side of the building. It reopened at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Electrical power on the north side of the building will be severely limited until repairs can be made. WVU has instituted mandatory power conservation measures in that section of the building until further notice:

  • Offices with windows will not be permitted to use lights.
  • Labs with windows will only use half their lights. -Lecture rooms will use half their lights.
  • Idle computers must be shut down. -Fans, space heaters and cooking appliances cannot be used.
  • The Health Sciences North Cafeteria is closed.

Other measures may be announced during the day Tuesday.

The equipment that failed is one of four electrical units, installed in the 1960s, that transform power from high-voltage line to the 220 and 110 circuits that serve the classrooms, laboratories and offices in the building. It is expected to take a week or more to find parts and make repairs.

Building security has closed and locked all offices, classrooms and laboratories in the building. Faculty and staff who need assistance entering a locked area may call Maintenance Engineering at 293-4294 after 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.