Wisconsin News

Fire damages second oldest UW-L academic building

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Firefighters battled a fire at UW-La Crosse's Wittich Hall late Saturday night. The call came in around 10:15 p.m.

When firefighters arrived on scene, they found a fire in the basement of the second oldest academic building on campus.  The fire was contained to the basement area, but there was smoke damage throughout the building, according to a press release from UW-La Crosse.

UW-L officials say the building was locked and it doesn't appear anyone was in the building at the time of the fire.

"I called and talked to (an investigator) this morning, he said that it was electrical in nature," said Captain Todd Adams, with the La Crosse Fire Department.

"It was caused by a long power strip on the wall. It had some, I don't know if it was materials that had fallen on it or what it was but that's under investigation to determine the exact cause," he added.

The fire also caused a second alarm to go off in nearby Graff Main Hall, the original building of the campus. The alarm was triggered when smoke entered the building through a ventilation shaft that connects the two buildings. There is some smoke odor in Graff and the facilities staff members have vented the building.


Wittich Hall has a limited number of departmental offices and serves as the home to the Center for Disability Health and Adaptive Physical Activity and the women's gymnastics program. The hall hosts community service and continuing education offerings such as youth sport programs in gymnastics and swimming, leisure counseling, and special populations exercise and motor development programs.

Wittich Hall was built in 1916 and is the original physical education building on campus. The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 11, 1985.

This is the second fire on campus in 2012. In January a fire in the basement of Drake Hall caused extensive smoke damage and forced the closure of the residence hall for the remainder of the semester. Drake Hall will be reopened for students in fall.

Nobody was injured in Saturday night's fire and the cause is still under investigation.

Top Videos

Latest News

This Week's Circulars