February 18, 2018  

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Preliminary Investigation Rules Fire at Johnson Natatorium Accidental

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Hattiesburg Fire Department personnel and University Police investigate an early-morning fire at the M.C. Johnson Natatorium. (Office of University Communications photo by David Tisdale)

Following a preliminary investigation of a fire that occurred in the early morning hours of April 21 at The University of Southern Mississippi’s M.C. Johnson Natatorium, officials with the University Police Department, the University Safety Department, the Hattiesburg Fire Department and the State Fire Marshal’s Office have determined the incident was accidental.

Maintenance staff discovered the fire shortly after 4 a.m. Hattiesburg Fire Department crews arrived shortly thereafter to contain it. There was no damage to the swimming pool area. An assessment of the fire’s impact and exact cause is ongoing.

“We are continuing our investigation of the exact cause of the fire, but we’re confident it was not caused by arson,” said University Police Captain and Investigator Rusty Keyes. “We appreciate the prompt response of the Hattiesburg Fire Department.”

Because of its close proximity to the natatorium, the Payne Center will be closed until Monday for an inspection to check for possible smoke damage.