“An issue arose when they were repowering the building, and it’s been dealt with,” said Dave Meyer, head of Public Safety.
Characterizing the aggressive response—which brought at least five engines, the fire marshal, police cruisers, and nearly every Public Safety officer on duty to the scene—as an effort to err on the side of caution, Meyer noted that the building will likely be closed overnight.
“We’re being extremely cautious,” he said. “We’re being as methodical as possible.”
As of 4:45 PM, MPD and Middletown Fire Department personnel have left the area, and roads have been reopened to traffic. One white SUV belonging to the Middletown Fire Marshal remains on Lawn Avenue.
Public Safety officers stationed at the entrances to Hall-Atwater are allowing limited access to the building to retrieve personal items, but otherwise the facility has been evacuated until further notice.
[BREAKING] Professor and Middletown Eye blogger Stephen Devoto is reporting that a “senior administration official” described the incident as a response to an equipment malfunction that resulted in a small fire, sending smoke into the building. Devoto also reports that the building will be closed until 7:00 AM on Friday. [5:42 PM]
[UPDATE] A Public Safety announcement confirms the electrical issue and notes that Hall-Atwater will close tonight at 7:00. The building will reopen for limited use at 7:00 tomorrow morning. [6:50 PM]