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Wet, Rancid Rooms Mark Tower Floor

Heat, charcoal-flaked water and rancid air circulated through the once cool green offices of the twentieth floor of the University Tower Tuesday afternoon.

Clean-up operations began early Tuesday afternoon after the fire that broke out at approximately 11:20 a.m. University fire and maintenance men with Austin fire fighters extinguished the blaze that gutted three rooms of Dr. Herschel Manuel, professor emeritus of educational psychology. The three rooms contained IBM cards and test booklets.

By special permission from Dr. Norman Hackerman, vice-chancellor of academic affairs, and James H. Colvin, business manager of the Main University, several reporters walked up to the twentieth floor to see the damage. This is the Texan reporter’s account.

Along one wall stood a table row of ashed tests, still stacked but unreadable. In other rooms, half-charred IBM cards lay singly and in small stacks.

Grayed, dirty water ran half an inch along the floor. Crews wielded pitchforks, long squeegee rubber mops, and shovels in attempts to clear the disheveled offices.

ALSO DAMAGED by the fire was part of the collection of Theater Arts books located on the same floor. The four rooms on the west side of the Tower were almost completely destroyed. Parts of the Theater Collection located on the east side were in good condition protected by heavy plastic covers.

Water ran down the stairway and elevator shaft, diverting heavy seepage from covering lower floors. Some water damage, however, has been estimated to the books below.

HEAT AND SMOKE caused some damage on the twenty-first floor, but fire marshals have not yet determined the extent of damage or the cause of the blaze.

Electrical wiring hung from the ceiling and lay in small coils down several flights of stairs. Fire hoses spurted at junctures up the 20 flights, leaving pools of dirty, hot water on each floor landing.

Fireman Surveys Wreckage

Fireman surveys Wreckage

ELECTRIC SERVICE above the twentieth floor has been cut off indefinitely. Vice-Chancellor Norman Hackerman closed the building for the rest of Tuesday.

Air-conditioning vents and equipment were tossed out the shattered windows onto the north patio of the Main Building. Security police are stationed at each door of the Main Building to keep the area closed off. Students and faculty loitered around the entrances pleading for articles and papers left in the stacks.

ONE WOMAN HAD LEFT her car keys in the Tower stacks while she went to the Undergraduate Library. When she returned the fire was blazing and the building sealed.

Daily Texan. August 10, 1965.
Article by: Emily Lamon

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3 May 1999
Send comments to evpp@www.utexas.edu
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