Fire Postpones Some UT Textiles Research

KNOXVILLE — A fire Thursday at the University of Tennessee damaged one of the campus’ oldest buildings and put several research projects on hold.

The fire was reported about 9 a.m. at the Carriage House on White Avenue, which houses the Textiles Processing Lab in UT’s Textiles and Nonwovens Development Center, or TANDEC. No one was injured, and investigators say the fire may have started from electrical wiring on the second floor.

David Garner, center director, said researchers and companies use the lab to manufacture small test runs of different melt blown and nonwoven fabrics. He said eight test runs scheduled for August and two in September have been put on hold until damage is fully assessed and repaired.

“We had three runs scheduled for next week,” Garner said. “I do not know how long we will be down. I have not been in the facility since the fire, but after observing it from outside, my feeling is that the flame damage is minor, but smoke and water damage might be heavy.

“I am sure we lost some computers and we have some electronic equipment and controls that probably are ruined, but I think we can repair rather than replace most of it.”

Visible damage also included broken windows and a hole in the roof created by firefighters to access the second story where the fire started, Garner said.

Garner said replacement value of computers and manufacturing machinery in the facility totals about $1 million.

The Carriage House, located behind the James D. Hoskins Library, was built in 1881 as an addition to the William Wallace Woodruff house. It is the third oldest building on UT campus.

UT converted the facility into a -Craft House- in 1945, adding a weaving room with looms, a lounge, an exhibit area, professor-s offices and a studio. The renovation and equipping was completed in 1950. In 1978, many of the crafts components were moved to the art department and to the Art and Architecture Building.

In 1983, Exxon Chemical Company and Dupont provided equipment and funds to the College of Home Economics to support fiber and nonwoven fabric research, and the house was renovated into a textile processing laboratory.