Fire Closes College's Main Dining Hall

An electrical problem caused a fire that severely damaged the main dining hall at Penn State Behrend in Erie, PA, reports the Erie Times-News. The blaze, early in the morning of March 2, apparently started near a temporary entrance to the Dobbins dining hall and destroyed the Gazebo at Dobbins, the eatery’s main seating area.

Dining officials scrambled to find an alternative site for students who typically ate at Dobbins, which suffered smoke and water damage in its servery and kitchen areas. A limited menu was offered at McGarvey Commons, a large campus social area with no foodservice facilities in the school’s Reed Union building. The food was prepared in the kitchen of Bruno’s Café, a retail outlet, and transported to Garvey.

Lunch on the first day after the fire consisted of a cheesesteak cart, tossed salads and milk. The temporary setup will serve through the end of the week, after which the campus will go on spring break, giving administrators a chance to assess their options. Ironically, Dobbins was undergoing a $7.5 million renovation, which was to be completed in time for the fall 2010 semester.