an update on the column of smoke (remember I can't write comments, just posts cause of the firewall). it turned out to be the power supply in the dell desktop. the guy was frantically saving all of the stuff he was working on and was successful!
as for the fire extingiusher (sp?) yeah.. that was the first thing one of the other enginerds sayed was "do i need to go get the fire extingiusher". we just got our VPP star certification so that'd be pretty funny if we caught the place on fire.
no fire extinguisher needed. just alot of smoke. later I returned to the cube to see how it was going and these guys were disecting the power supply. I'm sure they'll pull parts out of stock and try to get it running again.. after all, with the management around here it'll take weeks to order him a new desktop and if we need IS to transfer data or the HD that'll be about 6 months in addition.