Editor's Advisory: Early morning fire destroys research lab at UCSC

Fire was confined to a suite of laboratories on the fourth floor; no injuries are reported

A major fire in Sinsheimer Labs triggered an alarm at approximately 5:30 a.m. today (Friday, January 11). The fire was contained within approximately two hours and was controlled by late morning. No one was in the building at the time, and there have been no injuries reported. External monitoring equipment confirmed that no hazardous fumes escaped the building.


The fire started in the southwest corner of the building in laboratories supervised by Manuel Ares, Professor of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, and Chair of the Department. Fire was confined to that lab and the adjacent lab of Professor Jane Silverthorne. Sinsheimer Labs is a four-story building located on Science Hill in the center of the campus.

Current Status

Once the fire was controlled, a team of hazardous materials specialists began an assessment of the interior of the building. No one else is allowed inside the building. As of early afternoon, focus is on protecting and preserving research materials throughout the building, with professors providing staff with information to prioritize the removal and/or securing of equipment and experimental data and materials.


In addition to the fire's complete destruction of the Ares and Silverthorne labs, there is extensive smoke and water damage throughout the four-story building. Equipment and materials in research labs, offices and classrooms are affected.


The cause of the blaze is being investigated. It will be several days before any conclusions can be announced.

Impact on campus

Four nearby buildings and an adjacent parking structure remain closed for the day, both as a precautionary measure and to ensure an appropriate staging area for the equipment and personnel. The buildings are Thimann Lecture Hall and Thimann Labs, the Science and Engineering Library, and Kerr Hall. It is unknown when these buildings will re-open. Students and faculty will be informed about the relocation of affected classes.

Firefighting Personnel and Equipment Involved

A total of 60 firefighters and environmental health and safety personnel were on the scene, using 15 pieces of equipment. UC Santa Cruz Fire Department received aid from fire departments from the City of Santa Cruz, the City of Scotts Valley, Aptos, and the Central Fire Protection District, all in Santa Cruz County. The California Department of Forestry also responded.