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Fire shutters Dalhousie ag campus’ main building

The Cox Institute, the main building on Dalhousie University’s agricultural campus, has been closed down by a Wednesday night fire believed to have caused substantial damage.

No one was reported to be injured in the fire, the Nova Scotia university said via Twitter. According to local media the fire broke out Wednesday evening in the roof of the building’s east wing, housing mainly classrooms and offices.

Dalhousie, which since 2012 has operated the former Nova Scotia Agricultural College at Bible Hill, N.S., near Truro, reported Thursday that the building will be closed until further notice, with no access as the fire marshall’s investigation is underway.

“We anticipate fire officials to be on site Friday morning and once the building is released, cleaning and remediation work will begin,” the university said.

No estimate of damages was yet available Thursday. Campus dean David Gray, in a message posted on Twitter, described the fire as “devastating.”

While damage to the facility is expected, “there is an emotional response we are all feeling as we navigate the second fire on our beloved campus in three years,” he wrote. A fire damaged the campus’ Ruminant Animal Centre in 2015.

The Cox Institute of Agricultural Technology houses laboratories, classrooms, the campus registrar’s office, enrolment management and recruitment, the campus bookstore, IT services and faculty offices for Plant, Food, and Environmental Sciences and Business and Social Sciences, plus attached greenhouses.

Since the building’s opening in 1968, according to the campus website, “nearly every diploma and degree student has received at least a few lectures in Cox Institute.”

Members of the campus community were invited to attend a meeting Friday at 1 p.m. at Jenkins Hall, where Gray and an official from the Bible Hill Fire Brigade are scheduled to speak about the fire and “ongoing work to restore services.”

The immediate priority, Gray wrote Thursday, would be to “relocate faculty, staff and students to various locations and to assess the damage and our response to this damage.”

Summer courses being held at Cox Institute “have been moved to other locations,” the university said. –– AGCanada.com Network

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