LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - UW-La Crosse says the fire at Wittich Hall over the weekend has been ruled as accidental.
The university says the fire started Saturday night near a power strip on the wall in a basement storage area. Administrators say flames were contained to that area, but there is extensive smoke damage throughout the historic building.
The building was built in 1916 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
La Crosse, Wis. – A late evening fire has left smoke damage to the second oldest academic building on the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus.
Firefighters were called to Wittch Hall around 10:15 Saturday night (June 16) where they found a fire in the basement. The fire was contained to the basement area, but there was smoke damage throughout the building. The building was locked at the time of the fire and the cause of the fire is not yet known. It does not appear anyone was in the building at the time of the fire and the incident did not result in any personal injuries.
The fire also caused a second alarm to go off – this one in nearby Graff Main Hall, the original building of the campus. The alarm was triggered when smoke entered the building through a ventilation shaft that connects the two building. There is some smoke odor in Graff Main Hall and the facilities staff members have vented the building.
Wittich Hall has a limited number of departmental offices and serves as the home to the Center for Disability Health and Adaptive Physical Activity and the women’s gymnastics program. The hall hosts community service and continuing education offerings such as youth sport programs in gymnastics and swimming, leisure counseling, and special populations exercise and motor development programs.
Wittich Hall was built in 1916 and is the original physical education building on campus. The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 11, 1985.
This is the second fire on campus in 2012. In January a fire in the basement of Drake Hall caused extensive smoke damage and forced the closure of the residence hall for the remainder of the semester. Drake Hall will be reopened for students in fall.