A fire ripped through a recycling receptacle on campus Sunday, leaving nothing but a charred metal frame and a puddle of melted plastic in its wake.
Community Service Organization officers discovered the receptacle engulfed in flames at 2:15 a.m. on Sunday in front of the UCen near the University Art Museum. The receptacle was located approximately six feet from the main UCen structure, and was butted against a pillar. The fire completely obliterated the receptacle, scorched the paint off the adjacent walls, destroyed a vine growing up the pillar and melted the concrete beneath the receptacle, causing prolific but minor damage.
“The thing was made of fiberglass and plastic, so it produced a pretty high flame,” UCSB Deputy Fire Marshal Joe Harkins said.
University employees cleaned up the mess, which is nontoxic, Tuesday.
“Plastic is a petroleum-derived product, so when it burns it melts and runs, so it was a mess, but it was obviously easy to clean up,” Harkins said.
Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. responded within three minutes and had the fire extinguished almost immediately. The cause of the fire was unknown, but Harkins said arson is not suspected.
“It was a potentially accidental fire, possibly started by a cigarette,” Harkins said. “Any accelerant, lighter fluid or gas for example, would leave a strong smell; I didn’t find any evidence of that.”
The receptacle that was burned is one of several on campus, each costing $1,200. Associated Students Recycling Program, which is funded by a 75 cent per student, per quarter lock-in fee, received a discount on the receptacles because they designed them.