Electrical arc caused fire in gov't building

Small fire contained to mechanical room

Almost 900 employees were evacuated from the five-story Government Administration Building in the heart of Grand Cayman’s financial capital, George Town, on Friday morning. 

“There were no injuries reported, and everyone evacuated the building safely,” said Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts, speaking from outside the building Friday morning.  

The cause of the fire, according to a government press release late Friday afternoon, was an electrical arc on one of the Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) units that support the government’s information technology infrastructure in the building. 

Cayman Islands Fire Services received a 911 call at 9:58 a.m. about smoke coming from the building. 

“When firefighters arrived at the scene, the fire was located in the mechanical room. After searching the room we discovered a UPS [backup power supply] had caught fire, but it had extinguished itself,” said John Bodden, acting fire chief.  

One firefighter at the scene said they were “blowing the smoke out” of the building. 

“The government building was ventilated, an air quality test carried out to make sure there were no traces of carbon dioxide, and the all clear was given by the Department of Environment. [Then] the people were allowed back into the building,” said Mr. Bodden.  

Government employees were told by officials to take their lunch break and report back at 1 p.m. 

Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, who was in the building at the time it was evacuated, said in a phone interview with the Cayman Compass that the evacuation did not take too long. “We could always do better, but it was OK.” 

Governor Helen Kilpatrick, who has an office in the building, was not there at the time of evacuation, he said.  

Some employees who were standing in the parking lot Friday morning, said it took them less than three minute to get out. They saw the flashing lights, a warning, around 9:56 a.m. and about the same time, the fire alarm went off. They were told to leave the premises and to return at 1 p.m.  

Lisa Prendergast, who works on the fifth floor in the Ministry of Education offices, said it took her less than three minutes to get out of the building.  

“I came right down the stairs. The steps are wide and could hold everyone, so there was no need for worry,” she said. 

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Firefighters arrive at the Government Administration Building on Friday. – Photo: Jewel Levy
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