At approximately 7:40 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24, students were evacuated from HiRise when a small fire was started in a fourth-floor apartment. According to Director of Public Safety Dave Meyer, the fire was reportedly started when a student threw smoking materials into a trash can. The fire was promptly extinguished and students were let back into the building at approximately 8:10 p.m.
“The student claimed it was tobacco [that he was smoking],” Meyer said.
Meyer explained that it will be left to the Student Judicial Board to determine whether the student will be punished.
According to Aaron Veerasuntharam ’14, who lives on the fourth floor, there was a large amount of smoke in the hallway.
“I was actually kind of freaked out,” Veerasuntharam said.
According to Julie Hsia ’14, who lives on the third floor of HiRise, once the fire alarms sounded, students could be seen exiting the building in large numbers for approximately five minutes. Many students waited outside while the Middletown Fire Department addressed the problem.
“People were freezing outside,” Veerasuntharam said. “People were in shorts. One girl had to take out her rabbit in a cage.”
Lucy Britt ’14, who lives on the fourth floor, was among the students asked to evacuate.
“The fire alarm went off when we were eating dinner, and we opened the door and there was a bunch of white smoke pouring out from the other side of the hall, and we just went downstairs and outside and there were like 50 to 100 people standing outside,” Britt said. “I think everyone at first thought it was a drill and then smelled and saw the smoke and they realized it was a real fire.”
Britt estimated that three fire trucks arrived within approximately three minutes of when the alarm was set off. According to Dave Meyer, several fire trucks were rushed to the site as a precaution because of the size of the eight-story building and the number of students inside, rather than because of the severity of the fire. Meyer stated that there was no damage to the building.
“They [used] the fire extinguisher to put it out,” Meyer said. “End of story….I don’t meant to downplay it, but it wasn’t like there was a towering inferno down at the HiRise,” Meyer said.
Additional reporting by News Editor Lily Baggott.