UPDATE: Fire Breaks Out on YSU Planetarium Roof

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A fire broke out on the roof of the Ward Beecher Planetarium on the Youngstown State University campus around noon Monday, forcing the evacuation of the building – and likely the closing of the planetarium for months.

Lenci Blohm, a freshman from Garrettsville, was attending class in Ward Beecher Hall when the fire broke out. She was in a classroom next to the planetarium, which is part of the building.

“We started smelling smoke, and then the fire alarm went off,” Blohm said. 

A friend of hers who was attending a class in the planetarium told her that they heard noise on the roof, and the instructor said it was workmen. Shortly after, they began seeing flames and left the building.

A crew was on the roof fixing a leak, said Rebecca Rose, assistant director of communications at YSU, but the cause of the fire has not been confirmed. There were no injuries.

Several Youngstown firetrucks responded to the scene, and Lincoln Avenue was closed to traffic.

At 4:15 p.m. Monday, YSU announced that classes will resume at Ward Beecher Hall at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

In a Facebook post, the staff of the planetarium said the facility will likely remain closed for months. “While it is too early to make a full assessment of the damage to planetarium computers and projectors, a cursory look shows damage to the dome, with water damage to the carpet and the seats,” the post states.

“It appears likely that the planetarium will be out of service for the foreseeable future, perhaps for a number of months. Sadly, this will mean a cancellation of our public programs for much, if not all, of the remainder of our schedule through May 2023, including the “Rock The Dome” programs.”

The planetarium will post updates to the progress of repairs and when planetarium shows can resume. The email was signed by Patrick Durrell, astronomy professor and planetarium director; Curt Spivey, planetarium engineer; Jill Mogg, academic operations specialist; and John Feldmeier, astronomy professor.

Pictured at top: Firemen work on the roof of Ward Beecher Planetarium after extinguishing the fire.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.