SUNY Canton gets clearance from health authorities to reopen most buildings next week
Friday, February 17, 2012 - 2:31 pm

CANTON -- After getting clearance from health authorities, most of the buildings closed after last Friday's fire at SUNY Canton will reopen next week.

SUNY Canton's Cook Hall, where a fire broke out last week in a chemistry lab, is the only building that won't reopen.

The New York State Department of Health has released air, swipe and field test results on the other buildings that confirm they are safe to reoccupy, according to President Joseph Kennedy.

"Throughout this process, we have been exceedingly cautious in order to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff," said Kennedy. "Although there was only one building that actually sustained fire damage, we wanted to make sure the others did not sustain any smoke damage or have any air quality concerns. There has been a barrage of tests to confirm that there are no health concerns, problems or safety concerns in any of those buildings."

Classes were cancelled this week to allow authorities time to inspect the buildings that were closed, mostly for fear that smoke from the fire had contaminated them.

Cook Hall is the only building that will not reopen next week, and no date has been set for it to be open. Faculty members with offices in Cook Hall have been relocated. Classes scheduled in Cook Hall have also been relocated.

Meanwhile the damage to Cook Hall is severe enough that classrooms and labs are not expected to be ready for students to use this semester. St. Lawrence University has offered the use of some of its facilities to students and faculty from SUNY Canton.

Students will be allowed to return to campus on Sunday, Feb. 19, and all classes will resume Monday, Feb. 20. Individual courses may be subject to time and location changes, particularly the science labs normally conducted in Cook Hall that have been relocated to St. Lawrence.

Two student residences, Heritage and Rushton halls, will open Sunday morning.

The other buildings that were closed -- Payson and Wicks halls, the Faculty Office Building and the Richard W. Miller Campus Center -- will open Monday at 7 a.m.

"Each of these buildings is safe and secure," said Kennedy. "Students will be allowed access to their rooms and belongings when the return on Sunday. With the exception of the Cook Hall offices, faculty and staff will be allowed access to their offices as well.

"There are an incredible number of people we would like to thank for assisting us in getting back on our feet so quickly," said Kennedy. "Without their outstanding efforts and dedication, we would not be announcing the re-opening of our campus today. There are many individuals who have not seen their families for a week, and we can't thank them enough."

Fire investigators said the fire, which started in a storage room off of a chemistry lab, was consistent with a chemical fire. They said no one was in the lab when the fire broke out. No foul play was suspected.