La Crosse, WI (WXOW)-- Investigators have ruled the Saturday night fire at Wittich Hall, an accidental electrical fire.
Wittich Hall is the second oldest building on the UW-La Crosse campus. And while fire was contained to the basement room, the building is currently closed.
"The big challenge is the smoke damage throughout the building and really a strong odor of smoke," said Chancellor Joe Gow.
It's the second fire the UW-La Crosse campus this year. Back in January a basement fire in Drake Hall displaced about 270 students.
"I can stress, the Drake fire we know there was a human dimension so we know someone was involved in having that happen," Gow said. "This fire in Wittich, there is no human dimension. It was something with the wiring."
Gow says luckily the damage to Wittich hall isn't as extensive or expensive as the damage to Drake Hall.
"The Drake fire was really in the heart of the building as far as infrastructure is concerned, the electricity, the heating," Gow said. "In Wittich we didn't have that kind of serious damage. The Drake fire, estimates are around $3 million. That figure will not be nearly as high with Wittich."
The university has insurance that covers the damage from both fires, and Gow says Wittich hall renovations were already in the works.
"Even before this fire, we were saying what should be do with this very old building," Gow said. "And the UW system has a renovation program, we have an application in and are waiting to hear on that."
The fire will not necessarily speed up the renovation process though. And Gow says Wittich hall will likely be closed for at least a month.
While Wittich is closed the Center for Disability Health will run from Mitchell Hall and the student affairs administration department will be located in Graff Main Hall.
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