April 27, 1969 - 1,000 students help when FSU admin building burns
Up to 1,000 Florida State University students sprang into action as fire raged through the administration building. The students formed a human chain and rescued records and artwork while firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze, the St. Petersburg Times reported. Flames shot hundreds of feet skyward through one of the high, twin cupolas that distinguish Westcott Hall as the face of the university's Tallahassee campus. The effect was that of a giant torch. Treasures saved included a painting by Rubens valued at $30,000 and $50,000 worth of paintings by FSU art professor Karl Zerbe.
Seven fire department ladder and pumper trucks circled the building, pumping water over the walls to extinguish the flames that were shooting through the roof. Although the fire was contained to the fourth floor and attic area that housed the art department, heavy water damage was sustained from the firefighting effort. Gov. Claude Kirk was among the spectators who turned out to watch firefighters battle the blaze. He praised the students who helped rescue the building's contents. "This is the true student body," he said. The cause of the fire was never determined but arson was ruled out. The building remained closed for seven years and required $3.2 million in repairs. Read the story in the St. Petersburg Times: Blaze guts Westcott Hall