Suspects Sought In USD False Alarm

VERMILLION — Authorities are continuing their investigation into a false fire alarm at a University of South Dakota building last weekend, which they consider a criminal act, causing damage and taking first responders from their duties.

The call came Saturday evening at Julian Hall on the USD campus. Authorities received the alarm at 6:53 p.m. and spent about an hour on the call, according to Vermillion Fire Chief Matt Callahan. The responding units were the Vermillion Fire EMS Department, five apparatus, two support vehicles and 16 personnel.

In addition, the Vermillion Fire EMS Department sought mutual aid from surrounding communities but was able to cancel the call upon learning of the false alarm, he said.

Authorities are seeking the public’s help in locating any suspects, Callahan said.

“(We have) no updates,” the fire chief said Tuesday night. “(We’re) still hoping someone will come forward with information that will assist University Police and us in the investigation.”

Using social media, the Vermillion Fire EMS Department reached out to the public, particularly the USD community, for information and leads on any suspects.

“Saturday night. we responded to a call which we thought was going to be pretty serious but turned out to be criminal in nature,” the post said. “The University Police Department and our agency are looking for any information that anyone has in regards to this incident. If you have any information in regards to this, please give a call to either place.”

In a separate post, the department described the seriousness of the false alarm that required “a fair amount of time” from various responders.

In a news release, the Vermillion Fire EMS Department responded to an alarm at Julian Hall, located at 401 N. Dakota Street.

Upon fire command’s arrival, University Police reported no fire and unknown reasons for the activation in Julian Hall. However, the Julian Hall addition was still being checked. When officers entered the third floor of the Julian Hall addition, they advised that smoke was present and evacuated the building.

Fire crews laid supply lines to the building and attack lines to the floor. After entering the building, fire personnel discovered that multiple fire extinguisher boxes had been broken, and a number of extinguishers had been discharged in the third-floor hallway. This event triggered the alarm. Fire crews helped to clear the area and reset the alarm.

The building where the alarm occurred is vacant. There were no civilian or first responder injuries during the incident. Total call time was approximately one hour.

The USD Police Department and Vermillion Fire EMS Department are continuing to investigate this incident and encourage anyone with any relevant information to contact the USD Police Department at 605-658-6199 or the Vermillion Fire EMS Department at 605-677-7098.

Follow @RDockendorf on Twitter.

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