A wastepaper basket that ignited early Thursday morning in a bathroom at Cedar Hall on campus at Tabor College could have been a catastrophe had it not burned through nearby a water supply line.
At 1:20 a.m., Hillsboro fire responded to a campus fire alarm. Chief Ben Steketee said Lloyd Spencer was first on scene and smelled a strong odor of wax coming from the bathroom.
The fire was reportedly extinguished within two minutes.
“When I got there the trash can was all burned up,” Steketee said. “The fire also burned through one of the plastic water supply pipes, causing water to spray on it and ultimately put it out.”
The damage to the water line “incredibly fortunate,” Steketee said, as not all dormitory fire alarms were working correctly.
“The alarm was sounding in the building, but there was a problem with the bell in that hall and those students were not being alerted that there was a fire,” Steketee said. “If the fire would have grown it could have been a disaster.”
Steketee called in state fire marshal investigator Chris Mercer to investigate the scene because he noticed something suspicious.
“There was a candle lying in all the charred debris that was not melted,” Steketee said. “I don’t know what that could indicate, but it looked suspicious to me.”
As of Monday, the cause of the fire was undetermined and the investigation is ongoing.