The Des Moines Fire Department’s hazardous materials team responded to Drake University at 7:05 a.m. this morning with reports of a gas smell in Olmsted Center and Hubbell Dining Hall. Both buildings were evacuated.
Campus Security received a call from a Sodexo employee complaining about a methane-type odor in Olmsted. Drake Security Captain Les Wheeler said that his dispatcher received a call from the security officer who was sent to the scene that he come across an adult female who had a diabetic seizure and was complaining severe headache due to a gas-like odor in the air. The dispatcher called fire/rescue at 6:55 a.m. to report on the woman and the smell. The Des Moines Fire Department sent both its fire/rescue and hazardous material teams to campus. Security then evacuated the three workers in Olmsted.
It was determined that a battery from a computer in a closet in the tunnel between Olmsted and Hubbell “went bad” causing a very strong spoiled egg-like odor in the area, Wheeler said.
“(The battery) went bad and created a horendous, horendous smell,” Wheeler said.
Fire crews remained on campus for some time, monitoring the building and surrounding areas to find the source of the gas smell. Olmsted reopened at 7:49 a.m., while Hubbell did not reopen until 8:21 a.m. when they deemed the area safe.
Students whose phone numbers have been added to the emergency call system received two phone calls this morning–one warning students of the incident and one notifying them that Hubbell reopened.
The university also released a “campus alert/special notice” on its Web site this morning and in e-mail form to students and faculty. The message read as follows:
“Hubbell Dining Hall and Olmsted Center were closed at about 7 a.m. this morning due to a problem caused by a computer battery. Campus Security and the Des Moines Fire Department’s hazardous materials team responded. Olmsted reopened about 8 a.m. Hubbell is expected to reopen later this morning.”
Updated: 3/25/2010 10:06 a.m.