Construction Related Fire Breaks out on CEER Roof

Julia Butch, Staff Writer

A construction-related fire on the roof of Villanova’s Center for Engineering Education and Research (CEER) resulted in its evacuation on Friday morning. The fire was contained quickly and did not cause any injuries or property damage.   

On Friday morning, Robert Morro, P.E. Vice President for Facilities Management, sent an email informing the student body of the fire on campus.  

“A small fire, resulting from building construction materials, was reported on the southeast corner of the CEER roof,” Morro’s email read. “The fire was quicky contained by construction workers on the scene.”  

He also noted that “The building was evacuated and there were no injuries reported. Bryn Mawr Fire responded and are still on the scene.” 

“It was a tar kettle fire on the roof, and it didn’t extend anywhere else,” said a Bryn Mawr Fire official.   

He explained that this type of fire can occur when roofing is installed, as tar kettles are used to heat roofing adhesive.  

When asked for comment, Villanova’s Department of Public Safety declined, indicating that it had not yet read the report.  

“Without knowing specifics, we cannot comment,” the department said. 

Zihan Liu, a senior studying Mechanical Engineering, said he did not hear about the fire until he received the email.  

“I just got an email, and everything was fine when I got to CEER,” Liu said. “No one told me anything else about the incident. At this point, I feel safe in the building.” 

As for the renovation, Liu expressed concern about the noise.  

“The construction is very loud sometimes and disturbing to the students,” Liu said. “I expected new buildings but as a senior, I won’t have the chance to enjoy them.” 

“I learned about (the fire) from talking more to other students who were more aware of the situation,” said senior Chemical Engineering student Frankie Ciasullo.  

The Villanova website outlines the expansion project, which began in the spring of 2022. It says that “(the) 150,000 sq. ft. addition will more than double the existing 92,000 sq. ft. building.” It will allow for more laboratory spaces, an innovation lab, larger instruction spaces, green roofs, and more.  

The original announcement, which was released by University President Rev. Peter Donohue, PhD, OSA in October 2021, is also included on the website. The announcement refers to it as “the ambitious renovation” and that it is “scheduled to be completed by Fall 2024.”  

Additionally, Donohue noted that “The CEER expansion is one example of Villanova’s ongoing efforts to modernize and upgrade our academic facilities, as outlined in our Strategic Plan.” 

According to this morning’s email, the building reopened after about an hour.