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Bergen Hall, the men's dormitory at Providence University College caught fire shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday.

St. Pierre Fire Chief Martin Morrissette says when they arrived the building was engulfed in flames and thick black smoke was pouring out of the east side of the building.

"The fire just grew. Everything is combustible in the building and it got out of control pretty quick. Right now we are on basically a defensive attack. We are not going inside the building, the building is a total loss."

Morrissette says the St. Malo and Niverville Fire Crews were called in to provide mutual aid shortly after St. Pierre arrived.

"We are running with three crews, three tankers, we are pulling water from the creek, from the lagoon in Otterburne, so we have a lot of water coming, a lot of guys, we are just trying to dissipate the smoke, that way we can get in to see if the second story is still intact for the investigator to come out."

John Laugesen is the Chief Financial Officer and Vice-President for Administration at Providence. He says Bergen Hall was built in the 1980's and was undergoing exterior renovations over the past few weeks. He notes the fire has an immediate impact on Providence operations.

"This is the only men's dormitory so the housing of our male students come fall, also starting in July for six weeks we have sports camps where we have 80 to 90 kids coming here every week and we do use the building to house male students for that. Exactly what we will do for that, that we need to figure out."

Laugesen says though this is a great loss to the school, they are very grateful the building was not full of students.

"I am just thankful if something like this had to occur, it did not happen at minus 35 when it was full of students. There are no students in that building, the only resident of that building right now is our male resident director and he is out of town, so no one is hurt, and we are just very thankful for that."

Morrissette says the cause of the fire is unknown at this time but the Office of the Fire Commissioner has been called in to investigate.


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