Photo: Sierra Bein

Residence fire forces students out

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By Aidan Hamelin 

O’Keefe House residents had to evacuate last Wednesday after an overloaded power bar sparked a two-alarm fire in the second floor common area, according to Director of Student Housing Ian Crookshank.

“The power bar is no more,” Crookshank said.

Toronto Fire Services received a call about the fire at 5:57 p.m. on Jan. 7 and responded with nine fire trucks and 35 firefighters.

Student Housing evacuated 17 students who were in the residence at the time and then contacted the remaining 15 residents who were not on campus.

Just as firefighters arrived, O’Keefe’s sprinkler system went off and helped to contain the flames before any serious damage was caused.

However, there is extensive smoke and water damage to three rooms in the 140-year-old building. The majority of the damage is in the common area and an adjacent room, with a room below suffering damage from water dripping through the floor.

The fire and smoke caused an estimated $15,000 worth of damage to the building, according to Toronto Fire Services Capt. Adrian Ratushniak. Any damage estimate would not include additional costs needed to coordinate O’Keefe residents who were displaced the night of the fire, said Residence Life and Education Coordinator Brandon Smith, which includes lost revenue and temporary meal plans for those affected.

All O’Keefe House residents were relocated to spare emergency rooms in Pitman Hall and the International Living and Learning Centre (ILLC) until further notice, said Smith.

“[Campus facilities and sustainability] is working with Ryerson Security, Toronto Fire, our insurance adjuster and a small group of contractors to ensure the space is cleaned up and repaired as soon as possible,” campus facilities and sustainability manager Kerri Bailey said in an email. Bailey said it was too early to establish other details.

A first-year student who didn’t want to be named was moved from O’Keefe House to ILLC after the fire. She wasn’t home when the fire started but heard about it after a friend texted her. The student said she thinks Ryerson is “being really good about it.” O’Keefe residents were given “awesome rooms” in ILLC as well as money for food, she said.

Another person in ILLC declined to talk to The Eyeopener and said that a residence advisor had instructed everyone not to talk “until everything’s been sorted out.”

The majority of cleaning and repairs are estimated to be completed by Jan. 15, according to Crookshank, but it is unclear whether or not students will be able to move back in at this time.

Crookshank added that students affected by the fire will be updated regularly.

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