Fire, Flooding, Power Outage at Fresno County Office of Education

Published 04/24 2014 06:32PM

Updated 04/24 2014 06:38PM

An overnight fire at the Fresno County Office of Education (FCOE) building in downtown Fresno triggered the sprinkler system, causing flooding on the first floor and knocking out power to the building. 

The small fire started just after 3 a.m. in the electrical room. The cause of the fire is unknown. 

The FCOE and the Educational Employees Credit Union (EECU), located on the first floor of the building, remained closed Thursday while crews worked on water damaged floors. 

"This is the origination point of the fire," says Jeff Becker, director of facilities, while pointing to an electrical panel in a room located on the first floor. "It was extinguished quickly by the one sprinkler head in the room."

Only one sprinkler went off because the system is triggered by heat, and the fire was confined to one room.

But a single sprinkler was enough to send water flowing from the electrical room throughout the first floor.

"The sprinkler head in a typical scenario puts out about 15 to 30 gallons a minute. It was probably expelling for 10 to 15 minutes at least," says Ron Stogdell, a battalion chief with the Fresno Fire Department.

Fire crews say the water streamed for 75 feet in each direction of the sprinkler.

Operations at the FCOE were limited Thursday while cleanup efforts continued. 

"We do have staff that we had to release. There's also staff that we've relocated to other areas and staff that are working off site," Becker says. 

He adds that an electrical contractor and an insurance adjustor will investigate the cause of the fire and estimate the cost of damage.

Although damage was limited to the first floor, power was knocked out to the entire eight-story building where about 100 people are employed.

"We were grateful that the fire sprinkler system worked as designed and extinguished the fire, and there was nobody here that was in any harm's way," Becker says. 

Crews brought in back up generators Thursday afternoon. The building is expected to be operational Friday. 

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