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Fire alarm at Wake Forest Innovation Quarter attributed to ‘building-system malfunction’

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First responders are investigating a fire alarm at One Technology Place at the corner of First and Chestnut streets and have closed off the surrounding block. (Andrew Dye/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A building-system malfunction was to blame for a fire alarm at One Technology Place on Sunday, according to Eric Tomlinson, president of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.

“About 4 (p.m.) today there was a report of a loud booming noise. An investigation has shown that there was a building-system malfunction, probably in the sprinkler system,” Tomlinson said.

He said the problem was in the basement. It appears that a sprinkler pipe broke and caused a booming noise, he said.

Tomlinson said just after 6:30 p.m. that the fire department was permitting reoccupancy of the building.

Battalion Chief JS Henley said all Wake Forest Baptist calls come from that building and 20 employees inside heard an “explosion” on the fourth floor.

Henley said the fourth floor is a chemical company which is why they dispatched their Hazmat team for precaution.

Henley is not sure of the name of the chemical company and owners could not be contacted. Maintenance workers came out to fix the sprinkler system.

“We actually determined there was a break in the sprinkler line in the basement, which allowed air to get into the system and when that happens it causes what we call ‘water hammer’ in a building and it shook,” Henley said.

Employees with a Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center call center had been evacuated to a nearby building while firefighters and a hazardous materials team swept the building at 200 E. First St.

Winston-Salem police closed off the block surrounding the building during the investigation.

No injuries were reported, Tomlinson said.

The Winston-Salem Journal contributed to this report.