A George Washington University student is in critical condition after being discovered in his ninth-floor dorm room that had caught fire early Tuesday morning.
The student, a male freshman from Connecticut, was taken to George Washington University Hospital with severe burns at approximately 5 a.m., according to the GW Hatchet. Once the student was stabilized, he was transported to the Washington Hospital Center burn unit.
According to GW Director of Media Relations Terry Schario, another student noticed smoke coming from the room and alerted University Police. The fire alarm was sounded, and Thurston Hall's 959 residents were evacuated, Schario said. No other student injuries have been reported.
Residents were allowed back into the building at 8 a.m., Schario said. However, she added, 15 residents in five rooms were still not allowed in due to damage caused by the fire and by sprinklers in their rooms.
Schario said most, if not all, of the 15 displaced residents will be able to return to their rooms by Wednesday night. She said the university provided housing arrangements for them while they were displaced.
GW freshman Angela Wunderly said she was in Thurston Hall when the alarm went off Tuesday morning.
"It took [residents] a while to get out," she said, adding that people were banging on room doors to wake people.
Wunderly said nobody seemed especially concerned as they were evacuated. "A lot of people burn popcorn or something small," she said as an explanation for the residents' lack of urgency.
Wunderly said she and other students were moved to the cafeteria Tuesday morning until they were allowed to return to their dorms.
Schario said the burned student's roommate was not home at the time of the fire, and the student was in the room alone when he was found. Schario added that the D.C. Metropolitan Fire Department is still investigating the fire. The Fire Department determined that the student's bed sheets ignited after coming in contact with a portable electric grill, an item not allowed in GW residence halls.
The Washington Post reported that damages are estimated at about $10,000.
The fire at GW indicated how serious residence hall fires could be for students and their safety.
Gary Folckemer, coordinator for Public Safety Administration at AU, said he estimates that it would take firefighters five to eight minutes to arrive on campus should there be a fire.
"I am very confident in our alarm system," Folckemer said. "The important thing to remember is that there's no such thing as a false alarm."
Folckemer said that students should always be aware of their friends and neighbors during fire alarms.
It's important to always make sure your friends and fellow students, especially those with disabilities, make it out of the building quickly, Folckemer said.