UW-L Chancellor: 2-4 weeks before Drake Hall re-opens to students

LA CROSSE, Wis. — As investigators continue to work on a cause of a fire at a UW-La Crosse residence hall, the university’s chancellor now says it may be two to four weeks before students can return to their rooms.

SLIDESHOW: Drake Hall Fire

271 Drake Hall students had to evacuate after a fire started in a basement rec room early Sunday morning. No one was injured. Along with fire damage in the basement, the hall’s electrical system was severely damaged.

Investigators have ruled out a few causes of the fire, including an electrical malfunction and one caused by a heater, or an accelerant. It is still unclear why furniture in the basement caught fire and caused the severe damage.

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In an e-mail to the campus community Tuesday morning, Chancellor Joe Gow said students cannot move back into Drake Hall until it is safe and clean.

The process of making the hall livable again, Gow says, includes repairing the electrical and mechanical systems and thoroughly cleaning the hall to remove visible damage and the odor of smoke.

Some of Drake Hall’s residents have been sleeping on mattresses in the basement of Eagle Hall, while others are staying in other dorms on campus, or with friends, faculty and staff in off-campus housing.

Gow says Drake Hall residents are being contacted by UW-L Residence Life with options for more long-term housing.

Anyone who has an extra room in their home that they would like to offer to a student should call UW-L Residence Life at 785-8075.