Police Suspect Arson in Wolcott Gibbs Lab Fire

Fire extinguished without exacting major damage

Law enforcement agencies are investigating a suspected arson at Harvard's Wolcott Gibbs chemistry laboratory following a Saturday night fire.

The fire, which fire officials say started on a desk in the basement of the Gibbs lab building, was quickly contained by the Cambridge Fire Department (CFD) before it could do extensive damage to the building.

At about 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, security guard Kandeh Bangura was on patrol around the Divinity Avenue labs when he smelled smoke.


He traced the smoke back to the Gibbs chemistry lab, where white smoke was plainly visible.

A quick search of the building turned up only one occupant, a female on the fourth floor, who was safely evacuated.

Harvard University Police (HUPD) officers arrived on the scene, and called CFD.

By the time CFD arrived, smoke hung thick in the air around Divinity Avenue and it had filled the chemistry lab.

CFD units, including the hazardous materials (HAZMAT) unit from around Cambridge responded to the fire, as officials feared it might spread to chemicals stored in neighboring rooms in the lab.

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