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Brandon Clutter
Staff Writer

Two fires in a week at Las Positas College caused evacuations while students were prepping for finals.

On Wednesday, Dec. 4, a fire broke out in the back of the main theater of the Mertes Center for the Arts.

According to the Livermore fire captain, the cause of the fire is undetermined.

Campus Safety Supervisor Sean Prather, who was called to the theater after the incident, said, “The fire captain was on scene, and he said that the cause was undetermined, but deemed suspicious.”

Fire officials are currently investigating the cause of the fire. They found no evidence of an electrical device to start the fire, but also found no evidence of an accelerant to fuel the fire.

The theater fire proved to be most severe, as it burned a couple of boxes containing LED light strips, damaging four strips, and burning carpet used to cover other boxes. LPC student Jay Sharma, who is a stage manager for the theater, was the first person to notice the fire in the theater.

“I was walking up and down the working rail, checking the ropes, and as I made my way to the top and set down my stage directions, I notice a small flickering shadow in the back,” Sharma explained. “I went to go check, thinking that it was a cigarette, but as I got backstage, I realized over the top of these containers that they were flames, and were reaching almost six feet in height.”

Sharma immediately found his supervisor, Technical Performing Arts Instructional Specialist Mike Rinaldi, who alerted the students in the theater of the fire, and then found the fire extinguisher to put out the fire.

Rinaldi then called in Campus Safety, who checked that everyone was safe, inspected the location of the fire, and then called in the fire department for the rest.

“I got there afterwards, but when I learned that a fire occurred, the fire department was called,” Prather said. “Once they came in it was their job. They removed the boxes that had caught on fire and put them outside.”

The day before, another fire happened in the 2100 building, where a too-hot Starbucks coffee cup burned trash and caught fire. Campus safety was alerted, inspected the area, and then the fire department was called, while classes were evacuated.

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