At approximately 10:50 am on Tuesday October 27, Miller Library caught on fire. After noting the smell of smoke in the street, students and faculty were evacuated by the sound of the alarm. Speculation ensued as the fire procedure went into action. Contrary to the rumors, the cause was not the faculty lounge microwave, nor was it a malfunction in the boiler room, as confirmed by the Physical Plant Unit and Colby Security.
The fire in the Miller Library was caused by a smoldering cigarette butt, a commodity already considered contraband on Colby’s Tobacco-Free campus. The still-burning cigarette, thought to be extinguished, was left in a pile of dead leaves in a grate outside the Miller steps. After igniting the leaves, the smoke travelled through the grate into the mechanical room off the street, causing a burning odor not unfamiliar in fall in Maine.
“I just thought it was burning leaves or a fire place,” one student remarked, “But I guess I didn’t think about the fact that there is no fireplace in the Miller street.”
From the mechanical room, the smoke travelled through an HV/AC vent and into virtually every space in the library, filling it with smoke.
In an interview conducted with Echo co-Editor-In-Chief, Jake Bleich, Colby’s Director of Security Pete Chenevert stated, “We do what we can,” regarding remaining tobacco use on campus.
There are protocols in order regarding when action can be taken towards stopping students and faculty from smoking on campus. “If an officer does see it,” Chenevert said, if it’s a faculty member “we take it to the individuals’ supervisor” and if it’s a student, “we can only take it to their Dean if the student is uncooperative about extinguishing.”
Though tobacco use is banned on campus, Chenevert acknowledges that “people find nooks.” Usage continues to exist, but incidents like today’s demonstrate the importance of extinguishing tobacco usage at Colby. Smoking is not just a hazard to the smoker’s health, it’s a hazard to those around them and to the iconic buildings on Colby’s campus.