Faulty transformer burns Sigma Nu’s fenceFaulty transformer burns Sigma Nu’s fence

May 12, 2010

by Amber Guyotte

A transformer malfunction May 4 caused 15-20 feet of fence to catch on fire at the Sigma Nu fraternity house, but no injuries were reported.

The members of the Eta Zeta chapter of Sigma Nu fraternity were surprised when they spotted a smoking transformer near the fraternity house.

Some members were on their way to class when others were heading to the house and saw the hazardous scene.

Justin Musgrove, a senior marketing major, said he and some other members spotted oil leaking from the transformer onto a nearby pole and the ground below.

“Suddenly the transformer sparked and the transformer and pole caught on fire very quickly,” Musgrove said. “The ground around the pole had flames going up the fence, and within a few minutes the flames had engulfed an area of about 20 feet of fence.”

He said the city of Ruston was notified but the transformer had caught on fire by the time officials arrived.

The Ruston Fire Department was immediately notified.

“At first the fire seemed small, so I went to the front of the house to try to keep our house from catching fire, but by the time I got a water hose to reach the flames, they were well over the fence,” Musgrove said. “I felt there was little I could have done.”

Eric Brazzel, public education officer for the Ruston Fire Department, said a mechanical problem caused the transformer to leak oil onto the pole and ground.

“The firemen arrived and soon recognized the problem but had to wait for the power company to turn off the live wire,” Brazzel said. “Once the electricity was cut on the transformer, they extinguished the fire on the transformer and fence which didn’t take long to put out both fires. The whole transformer was destroyed and about 15-20 feet of fence was damaged.”

Mark Sills, Sigma Nu president and a junior English major, said the fire burned for about 20 minutes before it was put out by the fire department.

“Only two sections of the fence were damaged,” Sills said. “The sections should be repaired within the month. We will pay for it out of pocket.”

He said this incident sparked an interest in fire safety.

“From now on, May 4 will be Sigma Nu Fire Safety Day,” Sills said. “We will make some type of philanthropic event that will benefit the fire department.”