by Andrew Graham
Dozens of ISU Student Recreation Center members were forced outside Wednesday afternoon when a popcorn machine caught fire at approximately 4:30 p.m.
According to Normal Fire Captain Ken Kerfoot, the fire did not spread from the machine, but the building was filled with a “massive” amount of smoke, which forced the evacuation.
“The biggest problem was that it [the fire] just loaded the building with smoke,” he said.
Kerfoot said upon his unit’s arrival, someone had already extinguished the fire inside the building, adding that rec center staff had also evacuated the building.
“I was working out when I just looked over and saw the popcorn machine on fire,” said rec center employee and senior physical education major Aaron Ventsias, who extinguished the fire.
“There was a lot of smoke, but it was really just a small grease fire,” he said. The fire did not harm Ventsias, who was off-duty at the time.
“When I got here, there were probably about 50 people standing out here,” Kerfoot said. “There was enough smoke in the building that it was obvious to everybody they needed to get out.”
Kerfoot said the popcorn machine was removed from the building upon the fire department’s arrival and smoke removal machines were placed in the building.