Fire Damages Historic Building On UVM Campus

Aug 3, 2017

A fire Thursday morning caused significant damage to the top floor of Torrey Hall at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

The exterior of the building is undergoing renovations, and construction crews were soldering copper to Torrey Hall when they noticed smoke. Burlington Fire Marshal Barry Simays says the workers first tried to put the fire out on their own and thought they had extinguished it.

"They kept seeing smoke re-issuing from different locations," Simays says. "They immediately went to the site superintendent, got the keys to access that portion of the building, and as soon as they saw the smoke, the fire alarm system activated."

Fire crews were able to put out the blaze by early afternoon. Two responders received minor injuries. No other injuries were reported.

Simays estimates the building sustained at least $200,000 dollars in damage, though the University and its insurers will make the final determination.

Torrey Hall is home to a large collection of plant specimens, known as the Pringle Herbarium, about two-thirds of which are stored on the top floor. A release from UVM says most of the collection was not damaged. The plant collection is used to research conservation and biodiversity. It contains 300,000 plant samples from around the world. Torrey Hall is also home to UVM's Natural History Museum.

Torrey Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the university. It was constructed in 1863.