Fire breaks out on WCU campus

Posted: 11/21/2013

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UPDATE: 2:45 p.m. - Jackson County Fire Marshal Michael Forbis told The Herald the fire is out at Western Carolina University, and that the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation will begin work to determine the cause. That process could take days, Emergency Management Director Todd Dillard said. The county fire marshal does not have jurisdiction to investigate fires with state-owned buildings, so the SBI was called in, Forbis said. Crews from five counties - Swain, Haywood, Macon, Jackson and Buncombe -- responded to the blaze, he said.

Shortly after 9 a.m. a fire broke out at the Subway Restaurant located along Centennial Drive on Western Carolina University's campus.

As of 12:30 p.m. the fire was about 90 percent contained, WCU spokesman Bill Studenc said.

No injuries have been reported as a result of the fire, he said.

Three businesses - Subway, Rolling Stone and Mad Batter - suffered "extensive" damage, Studenc said. The roof on the complex collapsed.

Officials do not yet know the cause of the fire or where, specifically, it started.

WCU is operating on a normal schedule and all classroom buildings, residence halls and dining facilities are open. Students, faculty and staff are advised to use their own discretion in completing the instructional day.

The last fire at WCU was in December 2009 when theatrical lighting in Hoey Auditorium overheated.

Several Jackson County fire departments responded to the call, along with EMS and other emergency personnel. Neighboring counties also sent units to the scene as well.

WCU public relations issued a statement asking students to avoid the area.

Traffic has been diverted around Centennial Drive.

Students took to Twitter and Instagram to share images and video of the fire.

Story provided by:  www.thesylvaherald.com

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