Nothing says back to school like a good, old-fashioned bonfire. Boise State University has a whopper planned, but students aren't invited--or anyone else for that matter, save the Boise Fire Department.
In the early morning hours of Monday, Aug. 18, a few days before students and faculty launch the fall semester, a Boise State landmark will go up in flames. Don't worry. It's supposed to. In preparation for construction of a new alumni center, Boise State and the Boise Fire Department have agreed to torch the building and allow firefighters a unique training opportunity.
Preparations will begin Friday, Aug. 15, when firefighters will stuff the building with wooden pallets and straw to fuel the fire. All overhead light fixtures, exit signs and any removable hazards will be disposed of through the weekend. Crews will also take chainsaws to the roof to ventilate the fire. Then, at 7 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 18, barricades will deny access to Grant Street and University Avenue as a series of fires are set through the morning hour. The total burn-down is expected to take as long as three hours, due to the size of the building and the remains will be allowed to burn until most of the wood is consumed.
On-duty crews will patrol the site through the night to snuff out any embers.
Historical buffs may be interested in knowing that the building was constructed in 1962 by two Boise opthamologists, Drs. Bob Adkins and Bob Fulwyler, to serve as their practice. The building was refurbished by the Boise State Alumni Association in the late 1990s.
Once the rubble is cleared away, the alumni Association will begin building its new home on a much bigger footprint, covering 43,000 square feet of the entire site of the current alumni center, as well as the adjacent parking lot.
"I think the university is looking at this as an east end gateway into the campus," alumni association director Jennifer Wheeler told Boise Weekly in 2012, when the plans were first unveiled.
But it has taken some time to secure funding for the new center, priced at around $15 million, raised from association members.
"There's no state money in it, no student money in it, no university money in it," said Wheeler.
According to the association, the new center "will encourage the rekindling of lifelong friendships and it will ignite school spirit."
First things first, as Boise firefighters do a bit of their own igniting on Aug. 18.