A small fire broke out on the first floor of Hoeing Residential Hall on Nov. 20 at around 2:30 a.m. Many students living in Hoeing evacuated upon hearing the fire alarm go off, and went to neighboring dorm buildings Crosby, Burton, Lovejoy and Tiernan. The evacuation period lasted approximately two hours before the students were allowed to return to their dormitories.

The fire was started by a cigarette that had been thrown out in the trash can of the men’s restroom on the first floor of Hoeing. Upon witnessing the fire, another student immediately pulled a fire alarm, waking the residents of Hoeing, who left the building while Public Safety responded. Thirty minutes after the fire alarm sounded in Hoeing, the alarm in Gilbert also went off, this time caused by a glitch in the wire network rather than an actual fire.

Although the fire had not spread from the trash can, the sprinklers had been activated in the bathroom as well as in three of the closest rooms, causing about an inch of water to accumulate in each room. Six students were directly affected by this incident as some of their personal belongings, including their textbooks and shoes, were damaged by the water. The smoke had also spread throughout the first floor. Unable to remain in their flooded rooms, the students were approached by Resident Advisors (RAs) and their peers, who provided them with somewhere to sleep for the night.

“Considering how much damage could have been done, we were lucky,” Hoeing RA and sophomore Niru Murali said. Murali shared her appreciation for the patience, efficiency for the patience, efficiency and receptiveness of everyone involved, including the first responders, students and ResLife staff. She added, “In the future, the importance of leaving the building and making sure your roommates are out of the building should be reiterated, but overall, it was handled quickly.”

Some students who attempted to ignore the noise of the alarm were prompted to leave their rooms only because of their roommates, Hoeing resident and freshman Victor Zhang said. “When the fire alarm went off, my roommates and I weren’t sure if it was real or not. But I figured it wouldn’t be a drill at 2:30 in the morning so I forced my roommate out of bed because I wasn’t about to let him die.”

Not all of the students left their rooms that morning, however. Those who stayed thought that the noise was coming from a student’s alarm clock, not the fire alarm. Other students who evacuated were under the same impression when first awakened by the noise. Hoeing resident and freshman Janice Huang stated, “My initial reaction was mixed with annoyance and awe at how someone’s alarm could be that loud. My roommate and I tried our hardest to go back to sleep until finally we checked outside and saw the fire alarm lights. Grumpily, we took what we needed and exited the building for what seemed like a whole night.”

Murali also gave a statement as to what she believes may be a potential hazard in the future. “It’s going to get cold this winter, and people are going to want to smoke inside the building, and that is unacceptable.”

Public Safety is still investigating this event to ensure that similar incidents are avoided in the future.

Ortego is a member of the class of 2019.



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