Colorado lab devastated by fire

Published on
information-circle This article is more than 3 years old

Fire heavily damaged parts of Colorado State University's Equine Reproduction Laboratory on the Foothills Campus early July 26.

Firefighters found flames shooting through the roof of the building. The blaze impacted only the office building, which housed some laboratories.

"There was some research done there, and there was some computer data, but as far as how much data was available elsewhere or the extent of the damage, we are several days from figuring that out," said Dell Rae Moellenberg, CSU senior media and community relations coordinator, on July 29.

She added that no people or horses were injured in the fire, and it did not touch any barns or stock areas. Twenty to 30 horses in the immediate area were moved into pens away from smoke during the fire, but were not in any danger.

Fire-damaged CSU lab
Fire ravaged parts of Colorado State University's Equine Reproduction Laboratory this summer. (Courtesy of John Eisele/Colorado State University)

The CSU Equine Reproduction Laboratory is a teaching, research, and service facility connected to the CSU Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory. Work there includes veterinary reproductive research and services such as artificial insemination. The facility's staff pioneered reproductive techniques such as semen collection and AI, equine embryo recovery and transfer, and the shipping of cooled semen and embryos.

The Poudre Fire Authority estimates the fire caused a loss of $9 million to $15 million. As of early August, the origin was listed as undetermined and the cause as under investigation.

ERL employees will not be allowed access to the building until CSU safety officials conduct an audit of the building to evaluate potential hazards. Depending on that audit and following steps to address hazards, employees may need to wait days to weeks to enter the building to assess damage to building contents, according to the university.

For now, staffers have been temporarily moved to other buildings.

During the salvage and rebuilding of facilities, the ERL will continue to offer clinical services to clients.

Some laboratory clients may have had semen, oocytes, or embryos stored at the facility; however, not all client samples were stored in the building that was damaged by the fire. Staff will need to assess the viability of each sample recovered from the facility, a process that could take weeks, according to the university.

"Impact will be minimal to the daily activities," Moellenberg said. "The long-term impact on research data is yet to be determined."

The last major fire on campus in recent history occurred in May 1970 with the burning of Old Main, one of the first buildings at CSU, Moellenberg said.