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Officials Investigate Fire At U Of C Building

University Of Chicago Fire

An extra-alarm fire broke out on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at the Math-Stat Building at the University of Chicago. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED: 10/27/10 10:15 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) - Fire officials are investigating an extra-alarm blaze that broke out at the University of Chicago’s Math-Stat Building Tuesday evening, and left a firefighter injured.

The fire was reported at the building at 5727 S. University Ave., which is officially known as the Statistics and Mathematics Building, and was quickly upgraded to a 2-11 alarm, Fire Media Affairs spokesman Quention Curtis said.

Fire officials said the fire is still under investigation, and any cause would only be speculation at this time. Police Bomb and Arson Section officials told CBS 2 they are also investigating the incident.

Witnesses reported seeing the flames jumping from the roof of the building just after 5 p.m. Tuesday, and high winds carried the smoke across the campus.

One firefighter was hospitalized after battling the blaze, Curtis said. His injuries were not considered life-threatening, but he was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center in stable condition.

The U of C News Office reported that the firefighter was treated and released from the hospital.

The Math-Stat Building had been under reconstruction at the time of the fire, and no students, faculty or staff were inside, the U of C reported.

While the high winds Tuesday evening did not hamper firefighting efforts, they did prompt officials to evacuate several nearby homes and office buildings.

In addition, the shuttle bus hub that is usually located in front of the Reynolds Club student union at 57th Street and University Avenue was moved two blocks west to 57th Street and Ellis Avenue, the U of C reported.

U of C student Alicia Caillier was in a nearby coffee shop when she saw the smoke. She captured cell phone video of the blaze.

“I came outside and the building was on fire. And the firefighters were like running down the street. Like everyone started gathering and it was really scary, and I couldn’t breathe,” Caillier told CBS 2’s Pamela Jones.

The Chicago Maroon student newspaper reported that fire equipment took up the entire length of University Avenue between 57th and 58th streets, and much of 57th Street near University Avenue. The Maroon reported that three brothers from the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity just to the south helped a firefighter set up a hose.

Another student, fourth-year Sarah Armstrong, described the Math-Stat building to the Maroon as a “lovely building” based upon a visit some years back.

“I don’t want this building to burn down,” Armstrong joked to the Maroon. “Burn down Pierce or something.” Pierce is a 50-year-old residence hall known among students for its small rooms and fortress-like architecture.

A university spokesman told CBS 2 Tuesday that so far, it’s unclear what caused the fire.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.