USM building catches fire; officials say it was accidental

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM)-  Southern Miss authorities say the fire that broke out Thursday morning at the M.C. Johnson Natatorium on campus has been ruled an accident.

Fire officials say a maintenance worker discovered the fire shortly after 4 a.m. Thursday.

At least six fire trucks responded to the fire, and the blaze was quickly extinguished.  No injuries have been reported -- and damage is minimal.

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.
A Southern Miss police official says the investigation into the fire's cause continues.  "We're confident it was not caused by arson," the police official adds.

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