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NMSU temporarily closes O’Donnell Hall to repair fire damage

New Mexico State University has temporarily closed O’Donnell Hall on the Las Cruces campus to begin repairing damage caused by early morning fire reported Monday, July 6.


The exterior of a building of O’Donnell Hall at New Mexico State University
A fire damaged New Mexico State University’s O’Donnell Hall Monday, July 6. The building, which primarily houses the College of Education, will remain closed until Aug. 19 as crews repair and clean the fire damage. (NMSU photo by Samuel Horstman)

The NMSU Fire Department responded to the fire after a water-flow alarm in the basement of O’Donnell Hall, which primarily houses the College of Education, went off at 2:48 a.m. Monday.

A crew of student firefighters and three command staff, equipped with an engine and aerial unit, arrived on the scene to find heavy fire emanating from the southwest corner of the building in a courtyard area. The crew successfully extinguished the fire from the exterior, while an indoor sprinkler system contained flames inside the building. No firefighters or civilians were injured.

NMSU fire investigators have determined the fire likely started outside O’Donnell Hall but entered the building through a nearby window, causing smoke damage throughout the three-story structure, which underwent a major renovation between 2006 and 2008. Heavy water damage also occurred in an office area that was under construction and nearly finished.

University officials are still determining the damage estimate.

O’Donnell Hall will remain closed for the time being as crews work to repair and clean the fire damage. But university officials anticipate that the building will reopen when the fall 2020 semester begins Wednesday, Aug. 19.

The NMSU Police Department, meanwhile, has arrested a Las Cruces man in connection to the fire. The man, 27-year-old Andrew Caldera, has been charged with arson resulting in more than $20,000 in damage, a second-degree felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor.

NMSU police urge the campus community to immediately report suspicious activities by calling 575-646-3311.