Correction: The article previously named the Fire Marshall as Mark Chambers. It has been corrected to Bart Chambers.
University of Nevada, Reno, and state of Nevada officials provided updated information about the explosion that caused significant damage to Argenta and Nye halls on Friday, July 5.
The explosion has caused both residence halls to be closed for the coming school year, according to State Fire Marshal Bart Chambers at a press conference on Tuesday, July 9. The future of the buildings is currently unknown.
According to Chambers, a boiler that had shut down caused the first smaller explosion and severed a gas line. An alarm sounded in Argenta and students and staff were evacuated. A second explosion occurred shortly after and eight people were injured, two of which were sent to the hospital with minor injuries.
Many were concerned whether the building’s structure was sound after the explosions. Vice Provost Kevin Carman said the structural integrity was sound and the surveyors of the property did not see potential for the building to fall.
According to Shannon Ellis, vice president of the board of student services, the university has provided counselors in the residence halls where the students were moved within three hours after the incident took place.
While the scene is still being investigated, many students’ and faculty’s belongings are still without their belongings. There is a priority list for those students who need essential items such as medication and passports, according to Todd Renwick, chief of university police services. Elllis reassured those in attendance at the press conference that “their things are fine. They’re in that building and we will return [their belongings] to them.”
On Sunday, members of the community were able to drop off items at Sierra Hall to donate to those who have lost items from the explosion.
The actual damage that has been done to the buildings is superficial, and the structural integrity of the buildings have not been compromised, said Carman.
“They can and will be restored,” he said.
The university will not be raising the cost of tuition next semester to cover the expenses associated with the incident, according to Carman. There is already an approved Board of Regents tuition increase of four percent that will be taking place next fall unrelated to the incident.
Although Nye Hall did not experience the severity of damage Argenta did, university officials are quite certain that Nye also cannot be ready for fall semester, along with Argenta. Ellis said that it could take one or two years until both dorm halls are fully open.
According to Ellis, the university is in looking at options for securing 1,300 beds for the students that planned to live in the residence halls this coming fall. University officials are approaching properties in close proximity to the campus about allowing them to take out a long term lease and put the residence assistants and students there so they can still attend the university.
Ellis could not say exactly what properties they are looking into, but when asked if placing students in nearby casinos could be a possibility, Ellis responded, “yes.”
A mandatory building inspection will be taking place in all dorm buildings on July 11. Chief Chambers said the explosion was a single incident within Argenta Hall, and at this time does not look like a global issue.