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Building 46 Evacuated Due to Sprinkler Activation

The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory (Building 46) was evacuated for about two hours on Wednesday afternoon after a sprinkler on the sixth floor activated, setting off the fire alarm and releasing approximately 1,800 gallons of water.

A contractor working on renovations in 46-6319 activated a sprinkler head at 1:10 p.m. on Wednesday, according to Environment, Health, and Safety Coordinator Meg Himmel. The sprinkler could have been activated by heat or by contact, David M. Barber of the MIT Police said.

The sprinkler set off fire alarms on the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors of the Brain and Cognitive Sciences building, and most of the building was evacuated. Employees and students were allowed back in around 3 p.m. after approval from MIT Fire Technicians and building inspectors who evaluated the damage to the building’s electrical system.

According to Himmel, there were no injuries and the major property damage was the elevator located on the Vassar St. side of the building. The elevator will be shut down “for some weeks,” Himmel said. “Sensitive electronic equipment, located directly below the area of incident, was only minorly affected,” Himmel wrote in an e-mail.

Barber said that one conference room on the fifth floor, 46-5313, received the brunt of the water. Electrical power to that room, as well as the elevator, was shut down by MIT Facilities.

—Angeline Wang