Construction Confirmed As Cause Of HPER Fire

A construction crew had been suspected of starting the fire since it broke out on July 5.

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Photo: Sara Wittmeyer/WFIU

A fire was reported at the HPER at 10 a.m. on July 5.

Indiana University officials say a construction crew working on the roof of the school of Health, Physical Education and Recreation did, in fact, start a fire which tore through the roof of the building earlier this month.  IU spokesman Mark Land said estimates put the fire damage at $1-3 million, but added the weather has hampered recovery efforts.

“Because the weather’s been so humid in the weeks since the fire, it is still not dried out enough in there, in terms of getting the humidity and getting the wood to dry properly, for us to determine the full extent of the damage,” Land said.

IU risk management officials had earlier estimated the cost of replacing the hardwood basketball floor inside the Wildermuth gymnasium at several hundred thousand dollars.  Since it’s unknown if the floor will survive the water damage it sustained as firefighters battled the blaze, Land said the gym is no longer expected to reopen before the school year begins next month.

“As far as when we’re going to be able to get back into the building and reopen it, the earliest we could reopen it looks like would be the middle of September,” he said.

Land declined to say whether the University will seek financial considerations from the roofing company whose workers started the fire, saying only that IU has contacted its insurance providers in an effort to be made whole financially.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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