A MALFUNCTIONING air-conditioning unit caused fire at, of all places, the safety training laboratory of the UST Hospital Clinical Division last March 4.

The evaporator motor of the air conditioner at the Nursing Skills Laboratory had overheated, said Sampaloc Fire Department Chief Inspector Crisfo Diaz in a chance interview.

Diaz placed the initial estimate of damage to property at around P50,000. Investigators later said damage caused by the fire could amount to at least P100,000, including laboratory equipment.

Fire hit the laboratory at the sixth floor of the building at 11:12 a.m. and was put out at 11:43 a.m. Diaz said the fire was contained within a single room and was put under control at 11:40 a.m.

The Nursing Skills Laboratory is also used as a classroom for safety training by students of the College of Nursing.

Patients and resident doctors of the Clinical Division, along with students and faculty from the St. Martin de Porres Building, were evacuated after fire broke out. No casualties were reported.

Past fire incidents

Fires seem to occur in UST every two years.

A blaze hit the second floor of the Main Building in January 2012, when an electric fan was left running during the Christmas break at the Faculty of Pharmacy computer lab. Fire spread to the faculty room.

In 2010, an explosion in one of the restaurants at the Multi-Deck Carpark caused fire and disrupted classes in the College of Accountancy. It originated from an overheated exhaust duct at Sticks and Bowls located at the ground floor. Investigators said the fire reached second alarm and damaged P20,000 worth of property. Andre Arnold T. Santiago

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