By Dasha Zolota
A tenth-floor fire forced Pitman Hall residents to evacuate the building last Friday after a kitchenette in the floor’s common area caught fire.
Chad Nuttal, the manager of student housing services, said that the fire was suspected to caused by electrical problems and that there was no indication of arson.
Joseph Lombardi, a first-year aerospace-engineering student, described the fire as a ball of red flames that engulfed the oven, with smoke blackening lights and soot covering the ceiling.
“At first I thought it was the girls down the hall because they’re bad cooks — but they weren’t cooking,” he said. “Surprisingly, the toaster wasn’t burned; the George Foreman wasn’t burned. The fire didn’t spread very well, which was good.”
Lombardi also said that he had just left his room, which was located right beside the kitchenette, before hearing the fire alarm go off.
“People were kind of shocked,” he added. “They didn’t expect there would be
an actual fire. No one was panicking though. Everyone was pretty calm about it.”
It doesn’t appear as though anyone was using that particular stove at the time of the incident.
Two other students noted that there was a party at the opposite end of the hall at the same time, and they had no idea as to what happened. They noted that smoke hadn’t travelled down the hallways of the residence.
Nutall explained that in buildings such as Pitman, floors often have to have holes punched in them to run cables and plumbing. “Last summer, we went through the process of plugging those holes, what they call fire-stopping,” he said. “We plugged all those holes up with a special fire-retardant material so the fire can’t spread from floor to floor. Thank goodness we did that.”
All residents are back in Pitman now, and the fire department is investigating.
The cost of the damage is unknown, but Nuttall estimates that it is under $50,000 and that the school will pay the damages.