Fire in Data Center, Or Just The Blogosphere?

Reports of a data center fire last week originated on web forums, and spread outward from there. But were they true?

Online forums are tricky. Some posts contain insight from participants with serious expertise, and other submissions spout forth complete misinformation. It's often hard to know which is which.

Last week posts on the popular subscription message board Webmaster World discussed a significant drop in the number of ads being delivered by Microsoft's adCenter system (which competes with Google AdSense and Yahoo Publisher Network). One poster said they had spoken with a support tech and been told that the outage was due to a "big fire in one of the major data centers in the east coast that feeds adcenter ads" and that "all servers were burned and data destroyed." A later post noted that Webmaster World's adCenter contact insisted there had been no fire, and the slowdown was due to more mundane technical problems.

But just the discussion was enough to prompt a post at the popular SEO Roundtable blog, which then morphed into a story at the WHIR (Web Host Industry Review), a significant news site for the hosting industry. While the WHIR story noted the denial, the headline read "Microsoft Fire Disrupts adCenter."

Was there a server-melting fire? If so, I haven't seen any sign of it on the mailing list, blogs and news sites that would normally note such an event. If anyone knows more about this, feel free to add details in the comments. But it seems that sometimes where there's smoke, there's no fire.