BREAKING: Fire breaks out on the third floor of New South
Update 10:37: 12 rooms have standing water in them and 23 rooms are “affected” by the water. President John DeGioia and Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson have joined students in Sellinger Lounge where Student Affairs has provided students with ice cream and pizza. Olson said students would have to leave rooms for a “few days, at most,” and that the University is bringing in high-intensity cleaners.
Update 8:58: At an informational meeting in Sellinger, Vice President of University Safety Rocco DelMonaco said that it will take the University 60 to 90 minutes to do an “inventory” of the dorm. Some students will be allowed back into the dorm tonight. Those whose floors were affected by flooding could either stay with a friend or be assigned a place to stay by housing services.
Update 8:31: An RA said that some of the water flooding the third floor had seeped down to the second floor. RAs collected phone numbers from students at an informational meeting in Sellinger Lounge and will contact students to tell them where they can stay tonight.
Update 8:19: The post below now includes information from the D.C. Fire Department and EMS hotline.
Update 7:57: An anonymous RA said that New South will not reopen for a few hours and that some students may have to sleep elsewhere, possibly in the ICC.
Sometime before 7:00 p.m. this evening, a fire broke out in an empty dormitory room on the third floor of New South.
A recorded message on the D.C. Fire Department and EMS hotline said that fire fighters were dispatched just before 7:00 p.m. When they responded to the scene, they evacuated the building and found that the fire had been effectively controlled by the sprinkler system. The fire appears to have been accidental. There were no injuries and only “minimal damage” to a laptop and some other items, the recording said.
According to Kelley Kidd, who said that the fire started in her room, she was sitting in her friend’s nearby dormitory when they “heard a big bang” and then a fire alarm coming from another room. The floor’s Resident Assistant found her to tell her that the alarm was coming from her room. Kidd and her friend opened the door and could see a lot of smoke, she said.
“There was a fire on my desk, about that high and that wide,” Kidd said, motioning that the fire was about two feet tall. “It looked like some books were on fire and it looked like it was beside my laptop.” (Full disclosure: This semester, Kidd wrote a weekly feature for Vox Populi.)
Kidd turned to her friend and said “No! There’s library books in there! What are they going to do to me?” her friend recalled, laughing.
RAs and fire fighters at the scene declined to comment on the cause or location of the fire. It is unclear who called the fire department. Kidd said smoke began appearing in the room next door to hers along the back wall, where she and her neighbors share an outlet, leading her to speculate that the fire was an electrical fire.
An RA who was not authorized to speak on the subject and did not wish to be named said that the sprinklers went off on the third floor, causing flooding.
Caitlin Gilbert (COL ’13) and Brittanie Leibold (COL ’13), who live two doors down from Kidd, said they opened their door when the hallway fire alarm went off. They exited as an RA began to yell, “Get out, get out!” and “a big cloud of smoke” filled the hallway.
Additional reporting by Cole Stangler and Ishita Kohli
Photos by Lexie Herman