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Fire in Bldg. 7 called minor

By Jeremy Hylton

A fire that broke out early Saturday night on the fourth floor of Building 7 caused "very little damage," said MIT Safety Officer Walter G. Diaz.

Thomas P. Stack, Cambridge fire chief, said the fire's cause was "definitely suspicious." But no official reports indicate arson.

The Cambridge Fire Department's investigation of the fire continued yesterday, but a preliminary report indicated that the disposal of rags soaked in boiled linseed oil caused the fire. Linseed oil is known to combust spontaneously.

Campus police notified the Cambridge Fire Department of the fire on Saturday after receiving reports of smoke in Building 7, said Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin.

Five trucks from the Cambridge Fire Department arrived on the scene shortly after 8:45 pm. The fire was put out in a little more than an hour. Fire alarms, which sounded throughout Building 7, were turned off at about 10:10 pm.

The fire was a "small, smoldering" one that produced a great deal of smoke, said Stack. The ventilation system carried the smoke throughout the building, making the fire difficult to locate. "They were smelling smoke everywhere in the building -- except that room," Stack said.

Because the fire was so small, the heat it generated did not trigger the sprinkler system until after the fire department arrived.

The fire itself caused little damage and did not spread beyond a portion of room 7-404, said Stack. Damage was caused throughout the building by water from the sprinkler system.

"The water did effect telephone lines and some damage was done to ceilings," Diaz said. Several rooms were affected by the water. In one room, water damaged microfiche and two computers.

Insurance company representatives examined the damage yesterday and planned to continue today. As a result, Diaz made no estimate of the cost of repairs.