As Morris Brown College continues to fight to regain its accreditation, a recent incident has caused another set back for the historically Black college resulting in $100,000 in damages.
A fire erupted in an office of one of the buildings late last week and the sprinklers running overnight led to severe water damage, WSB-TV reported.
The flames broke out in the office of the president on the 2nd floor of one of the main buildings at the HBCU Friday, May 31.
“About 6 a.m. Saturday morning I got a call from my security team and they said there was a fire here at the campus,” the school’s interim president, Dr. Kevin James, told the news station. He said the fire, which only damaged his chair, desk and a few other items, was contained once the sprinklers came on. However, since they were on through Saturday, flooding damaged the building.
“On Friday night, the sprinklers came on and we discovered it early Saturday morning, and so the entire building was flooded,” he said.
On Monday, WSB reported school officials deployed industrial-sized fans throughout campus and restoration crews worked inside and outside the affected building to rip up and dump the tarnished carpets.
The incident will cost about $100,000 to repair, which James hopes will be covered by alumni and the community. The interim president is also discussing covering the costs with the insurance company. Meanwhile, a fundraiser has been set up for the recovery efforts.
An incident report the Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained from the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department stated a small trash fire reached James’ desk. However, a cause had not been determined, according to Atlanta Fire Rescue Sgt. Cortez Stafford, who said it is currently under investigation.
It’s another bump in the road for Morris Brown, which is Atlanta’s first HBCU. After being placed on the worldwide stage thanks to the aughts films “Stomp the Yard” and “Drumline,” the school lost its accreditation in 2002 after falling $30 million into debt. In 2012, the 137-year-old college filed for bankruptcy protection in an effort to avoid foreclosure.
Additionally, Morris Brown has faced several fires over the last two decades, WSB reported. In 1998, police suspected an arsonist started a fire and in 2001 and 2015, fires broke out in dorms. The year after, authorities said squatters caused a fire in a vacant building on campus.
“Just another roadblock but guess what?” James told the station. “We’re going to overcome this and we’re going to keep moving forward. Restore Morris Brown, the hard reset.”