Fire Chief: Blow torch caused fire at Gleason Center

Published On: Feb 06 2014 09:24:14 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 07 2014 06:14:30 PM CST

A fire that broke out in a college gymnasium was caused by a blow torch used to thaw frozen pipes, fire officials said.

Chief Dick Jones, Sterling Fire, said the pipes in the Gleason Center froze earlier in the day. Crews used the blow torch to melt the ice inside the pipes.

A fire spread in the west wall of the building around 8 p.m. while the Warriors and Tabor College Blue Jays were warming up.

"Maintenance crews had been doing this for a while and had no problems," Jones said. However, he strongly advised against using this procedure.

Homeowners are encouraged to use in house heat systems, space heaters or even a hair dryer to thaw out pipes.

About 800 people were in the building at the time. No one was hurt.


A college men's basketball game has been postponed after a fire broke out in the gymnasium.

The fire started around 8 p.m. at Sterling College gymnasium where the Warriors were warming up to take on the Tabor College Blue Jays.

A school spokesman said smoke was spotted prior to tip-off, and a fire broke out on the West wall behind the backboard.

An estimated 800 people evacuated the gym.

"The evacuation went very well. I am proud of our students and the Sterling community for immediately leaving the area when instructed. I would also like to thank the Tabor community and Tabor President, Dr. Jules Glanzer, for assisting in our efforts," President Scott Rich said.

The fire was put out and no one hurt. The cause is still under investigation.

The spokesman said a meeting will take place Friday to determine when the game will be played.