A discarded tobacco product might have sparked a fire next to Ottawa University’s library and art gallery Thursday night.
The building that houses Mammel Art Gallery and Myers Library, 328 E. Ninth St., on the OU campus, was occupied at the time of the fire, and those inside used a pull station to activate the alarm system about 7:30 p.m., Jeff Carner, Ottawa fire chief, said.
The building was evacuated, and no one was injured in the fire, Carner said.
“The fire started on the exterior of the building as an apparent result of discarded smoking material that ignited some combustible material,” Carner said. “The fire was contained to the immediate area of origin and caused an estimated $700 damage to the building. The fire did break some windows in the area, which allowed smoke to enter the building. The initial estimates for smoke damage is $10,000.”
Carner stressed that the damage totals were just estimates at this point.
Repairs were being made Friday to the building to make sure it was weather-tight and safe, Paula Paine, the university’s manager of public relations and publications, said.
“The initial fire department estimate of $10,000 is before any cleaning is done to see what smoke damage will need to be repaired professionally,” Paine said.
“All the damage was to the Mammel Art Gallery, but it was on the exterior,” Paine said. “No art pieces or books were damaged.”
The art gallery and library remained opened Friday, she said.
“It may have been an improperly disposed of tobacco product, but that is just speculation. We do not have a definitive cause,” Paine said. “We are grateful that no one was injured and feel very fortunate the damage wasn’t more extensive.”