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Saturday, September 30, 2023 — Houston, TX

Temporary power outage impacts campus, smoke forces evacuation at McMurtry


By Hajera Naveed and Prayag Gordy     1/15/23 6:01pm

Power outages affected nearly all of the Rice campus on Saturday afternoon, with reports of outages starting around 3:30 p.m. According to Jeff Falk, interim vice president for public affairs, electricians are working to restore power and the Crisis Management team has been activated. At the time of publication, power has returned to parts of campus.

Smoke set off fire alarms at McMurtry College, causing residents to evacuate soon after the outages began. According to Falk, the smoke was the result of a burst steam pipe that may be related to the power outages. A Facilities Events & Planning staff member said there was not a rupture in the pipe, but that the system ventilates automatically when power is cut to avoid a buildup in pressure.

Falk said Rice electricians are not sure what caused the outage, though the FE&P staff member said it likely originated from an electrical fault near Huff House, causing the power system to shut down to protect itself. The staff member added that this situation happens without a clear reason and said they remember this occurring at least three times within the last ten years on Rice campus. The Thresher could not independently verify these claims.

This is a developing story and will be updated when new information becomes available. 

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