Students face late-night fire

A fire sent Southside residents out of their rooms Monday night. At least six emergency vehicles responded to the alarm, which went off at 10:55. Students were allowed back into the halls at 11:50, although there were mixed messages about when students could re-enter.

Smoke was seen in the hall of Anderson Hall 3 North just prior to the alarm, according to students who watched the trucks from outside the SIS Annex. The fire was caused by a lamp that was too close to a bed, according to Gary Folckemer of Public Safety.

The lamp was a regular floor lamp with incandescent bulbs, according to Julie Weber, executive director of Housing and Dining Programs. Although many believed it was a halogen lamp, they are banned in the residence halls, Weber said.

The fire damaged a mattress and the bed frame in the room in addition to various personal items, Weber said. The wall and some ceiling tiles in the room were also burned. It is unknown if the residents were in the room at the time of the fire.

A Public Safety officer reported that the sprinkler system had gone off and that smoke was coming from the room just prior to 11:00. For the sprinkler system to be activated "either heat has melted the fuseable link" or it can be set off by accident, Folckemer said.

Sophomore Ben Mazur said there was white smoke visible in the room, which is on the corner of the third floor facing the north side of campus. "All you could see was white smoke and this sad little fan," Mazur said.

Later, the smoke cleared and water from sprinklers was visible on the window of the room.

The D.C. Fire Department reported that the fire was out as of 11:12, citing the use of sprinkler system, Folckemer said.

"It would seem, the sprinkler system did what it was supposed to do and put the fire out," Folckemer said.

Starting at 11:06, vehicles arrived from Engine companies 5, 12, 14, 20 and 31, as well as Battalion Chief 5. The vehicles included at least four ladder trucks and two smaller vehicles. Many of the vehicles left campus after 11:18.

Physical Plant Operations arrived at 11:06 and turned off the alarm at 11:12, Folckemer said. Nineteen rooms on the second and third floors had water damage, but only one had fire damage, Weber said. RAs, Aramark workers and some residents helped to clean up the water.

"After an incident like this, the cleanup goes on well into the night," Weber said. "They were cleaning up to yesterday afternoon."

Around 11:45, students were told that it would be an hour before they could re-enter, yet the halls were re-opened five minutes later. The change in time was caused by mixed messages between AU's Public Safety and the D.C. Fire Department.

The alarm brought concerns of a repeat of several cases of arson during the early morning on Dec. 5, right before finals week last semester. This fire was completely unrelated, according to Weber.

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle

Would you like to support our work? Donate here to The Eagle Innovation Fund.