Around 5pm Sunday night, St. Andrews was flooded with rumors of a possible fire coming from a building on North Haugh, where copious amounts of smoke were spotted. Spreading quickly through the student body, images posted on social media revealed that the fire originated from the Biomedical Sciences building.
University emergency services and the Scottish Fire Service quickly arrived on the scene and the fire was under control by the late evening.
In an email to the university late Sunday night President Sally Mapstone reported “considerable damage” to lab space and other facilities within the Biomedical Science building, though there are no reported injuries or casualties from the fire as of Monday morning. She explicitly told students and faculty that were scheduled to report to the building this week to await further instructions, it is unlikely the BMS building will be open to the public in the immediate future.
After confirming the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved, one key concern shared by students and faculty alike is of the preservation of experiments and research conducted in the building. The University’s Biomedical Science departments are world renowned and many of its projects must be tended to daily, representing months and even years of hard work. Unfortunately, the fire likely impacted experiments both in the room it broke out in as well as the rest of the building as temperature and lighting are often controlled for many of these experiments.
In an email sent out Monday morning, President Mapstone reassured the student body that no one was injured in the fire. The Scottish Fire Service went so far as to go to contact every person who had used a matriculation card to gain access to the building on Sunday afternoon to ensure their safety – in extreme cases, the fire service even went door to door to find these individuals at their homes if they were not answering their phones.
The email also confronted material damages to the building. Only four rooms on the second and third floors were damaged, but water and smoke damage to the rest of the building is likely according to President Mapstone. It is still unclear what has caused the fire, though rumors are abundant across the university. Speculation about PhD students losing years of work and professors who are uncertain about their lifetime of research have also come to light in recent days.
This story will be updated if more information regarding the cause of the fire and its lasting impact becomes available.