A fire that broke in the Radcliffe Science Library was started by an independent contractor carrying out welding work, the RSL has confirmed.

The fire – which begun in the Plant Room – was quickly contained, and students allowed to return to the building after an evacuation.

A spokesman for the library told Cherwell: “The welder stayed behind for ‘fire watch’ after completing the work, for reassurance that nothing had been ignited by the hot particles produced during welding.

“During fire watch a large quantity of smoke started issuing from a nearby cavity and was seen immediately. The contractor tried to stop the fire with a CO2 extinguisher but when this was not successful they activated the fire alarm.”

While the fire did not spread beyond the RSL’s Plant Room, the entire building was evacuated.

Melissa Talbot, a first year physicist who had been studying in the library, said: “We didn’t see any fire. We were super confused.”

Fire service crews quickly extinguished the blaze and, after an hour, students and staff were permitted to return.

No one in the building was harmed and there was no damage to either the collections or the Plant Room.

The RSL has stated it “remains committed to its current fire safety arrangements, and sees no reason to alter the current system”.

A spokesperson said: “The RSL has a fire risk assessment which is reviewed regularly. The safety arrangements for this work were suitable and sufficient, and the contractor followed them entirely correctly.”

Although disruption to students was minimal, some were not prepared to see their trip to the library rendered futile.

Student Arthur Morris said: “I got there as the fire engines arrived, then went back after about 20 minutes and had to find my book whilst the alarms were still going off”.


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