Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dorm Reoccupied after Minor Fire

A small fire broke out in a third-floor bedroom in Chester Hall on Monday at about 8 p.m. No students were injured and the building was evacuated without incident.

All power had been restored by 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, and students were able to reenter and occupy the building.

The source of the fire was a student's unattended fan that had been left on and had fallen onto bedding, causing the motor to overheat and catch fire. Damage from the fire or smoke was minimal and confined to the area around the fan.

Because the sprinkler system activated there was water damage to the room, to surrounding rooms, and to rooms on the the floors directly below.

As a safety precaution, the building was closed Monday night so that the electrical system could be checked for any water-related problems.

Clean-up began Tuesday morning while an assessment was underway to determine repairs needed for the most directly affected rooms. Students were housed overnight in a nearby hotel; some elected to stay with friends. The sprinkler-system contractor (Fireline) arrived to replace sprinkler heads and re-energize the system. The fire-code inspector thoroughly investigated the dormitory, ascertained that the electrical grid was undamaged, and gave the all-clear Tuesday for reoccupation.

Marcor Remediation also was on site Tuesday morning with dehumidification equipment, while maintenance crews targeted the water-damaged areas throughout the day. In all, 11 rooms—three on the third floor, four on the second floor, and four on the first floor—sustained significant water damage and will require repair. The Residential Life Office is providing alternative on-campus living arrangements for the 13 students temporarily impacted by repair efforts.

"The response from all concerned—the Department of Public Safety, the Chestertown Fire Department, the Residential Life staff—was prompt and effective, and the resident students remained calm and responded well," said Mela Dutka, Vice President and Dean of Students.

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