Debris catches fire at high-rise

Small fires occurred on the 18th floor of Morgan Hall.

Fire in the high-rise of the Morgan Hall complex yesterday, Feb. 11, halted work in the building and caused gridlock at the intersection of Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue.

At least three separate fires were reported in the building, all caused by burning construction debris, said Ray Betzner, assistant vice president for university communications.

The fires caused workers to evacuate and sections of Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue to be shut down, although reports indicated no injuries or damage to property.

Betzner said Temple is still awaiting the full report by the fire marshal.

Fire radio reports indicated that the fire was placed under control at about 12:45 p.m.

Workers on the ground said that there was fire in the electrical room on the 18th floor of the building.

A worker on the tower, John Brown, said he was working above the 18th floor and saw smoke on his way down to the street.

Broad Street was shut down between Jefferson Street and Montgomery Avenue; portions of Cecil B. Moore Avenue in front of the building were also closed temporarily. The Broad Street Line continued operation as normal and pedestrian traffic was open on both streets.

A SEPTA bus remained stationed on Cecil B. Moore Avenue, near the building, as officials closed the street.

Thaddeus Moore, driver of the bus, said he didn’t see smoke, but let all his passengers out when his bus was blocked by fire trucks. Moore said SEPTA passengers had to walk to 12th Street to take a detour.

Construction officials declined comment.

Student passersby gawked at the scene, many taking pictures of the high-rise and firefighters on camera phones.

No TU Alert was sent out to students during the incident. Betzner said that there was never a danger to students, and that there was no need for them to make changes to their actions.

In February 2011, a fire at a construction trailer on the site of the then unnamed tower caused officials to evacuate nearby 1300 Residence Hall.

The $216 million residence hall, which features the 27-story tower, is scheduled to open this fall.

John Moritz can be reached at or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU. 

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