Electrical problems cut chapel short


Photo courtesy of Jonathan Salomon.

Michael Brown, Managing Editor

Students were asked to vacate the MacArthur Center in the middle of chapel Monday morning due to a potential electrical fire.

“We have an electrical issue up here in the crow’s nest,” said Campus Pastor Harry Walls, interrupting speaker Bobby Blakey. “We’re going to have to call the Fire Department.”

Several students had reported smelling smoke during chapel before Walls announced the evacuation.

“We could smell the burning,” said Steven Mendez, a freshman with an undeclared major. “It was pretty bad.”

After Campus Security was alerted of the problem, they proceeded to inform Walls that they needed students to leave the building, which caused Walls to interrupt Blakey’s chapel message.

“My lungs were dying, and I was about to leave chapel anyway,” said Mackenzie Kelley, a freshman majoring in marketing media.

Campus security officials proceeded to call the Los Angeles County Fire Department, who arrived minutes later. According to a spokesman with the Department’s Command and Control Center, the smoke was caused by a short in an electrical box.

“We could all smell trouble,” said Jason Schiewe, a freshman business marketing major. “People were looking around and making eye contact, and we weren’t honestly that surprised when he said that there was something going on with the electrical wiring.”

Many students were disappointed that the message for Monday’s chapel did not get to reach its conclusion.

“I was genuinely disappointed because we were all looking forward to finishing the sermon,” said Naomi Stephenson, a freshman pre-med major “I’m glad that everyone got out safely and we got it dealt with, but we were all disappointed that the sermon went short.”

As of 6 p.m. Monday, Mike Riccardi, the pastor of Local Outreach Ministries at Grace Community Church, is still scheduled to speak at Wednesday’s chapel. TMU officials have not said whether Blakey will get a chance to finish his message or not.

Ed. Note: Danielle Gallegos contributed to this article.