Nearly 700 employees at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids were evacuated from a number of buildings this morning because of a fire. Cedar Rapids Fire Department spokesperson Greg Buelow says a sprinkler system doused the fire, which started just above a drop-down tile ceiling over two interconnected buildings.
“The sprinkler system worked like it was supposed to. It put out the fire,” Buelow said. “Damage was contained to a 75 by 75 foot area. There is water damage in three buildings from the sprinkler system, but the good news is that everybody got out safely.” The fire was reported just after 9 a.m. within one of ten interconnected, single-story metal buildings on the southeast side of the Rockwell campus.
Buelow says most of the damage occurred in areas containing office and communications equipment. A few dozen workers were sent home for the day because of the damage to their workplaces. “It could have been a lot worse if the fire would have got into the roof and spread throughout the whole complex,” Buelow said.
Investigators determined the fire started when sparks from a contractor’s LP-gas torch ignited paper facing on insulation between the roof and the drop-down tile ceiling. Contractors were on the roof of one of the buildings to patch a hole.