Four pies are suspected of causing a small fire to break out in Turrell Manor Sunday night.
While the official reason for the fire has yet to be determined, Residence Hall Director Jane Sanchez says she has looked at the fire department report and believes students may have overfilled the oven.
“It was going up in flames so we turned it off and the flames died down, but the smoke just kept getting worse,” Danielle Storm, one of the girls baking, said. “So we pulled the alarm right away and we all evacuated the building. It was scary, something so little, we expected it to be a fun evening of baking. You don’t think it can happen to you and it did.”
Storm said they may have put too much in the oven, thinking that the more they put in the oven the longer it would take to bake.
The residence hall was only six people shy of being a full hall, with 77 people evacuating in less than three minutes.
Sanchez said co-operation and quickness of students and staff prevented the fire from escalating.
“Everything we taught them, they did,” she said. Sanchez was more than pleased with the quickness of the emergency response teams as well.
“It smoked from behind because that’s where the vent for the oven is of the unit, so that may have made them think it was a malfunction,” Sanchez said.
RA on duty Vanessa Guevara said that multiple students smelled the smoke, but didn’t report it.
“If you smelled something someone should have brought it up,” Guevara said. “You should tell the RA on duty.”
Students could see smoke building up in the apartment from across the street as they waited for the fire department to arrive.
“We watched as the fire department tried to get into the apartment, at first they were having trouble with the door,” Guevara said. “The fire fighters grabbed the ladder trying to smash in one of the windows.”
Junior Jamie Von Reyn lives on the second floor of Turrell, and was there the night the fire happened.
“I think everyone thought it was a regular alarm,” Von Reyn said. “We saw the first floor was really smoky, and you could see a little fire ignited in there, but it went out.”
Von Reyn said that when she saw there was a small fire it became scary.
“I was like ‘maybe I should have taken some of my stuff even though that’s not the proper way to leave,'” Von Reyn said.
Steven Riedel, the resident of the apartment where the fire occurred, slept in a separate room following the fire so that the smell of the smoke or any other factors wouldn’t affect him.
Turrell has had multiple alarms in the past month, but Von Reyn said when she returned to her apartment it smelled smokier than it ever had before during previous fire drills.
“I feel like it’s going to get worse because it’s going to get colder and students won’t want to open up the windows,” Von Reyn said.
House cleaning came in and cleaned the room, shampooing the carpets and the couches so that the smoke smell would not be as apparent.
Debris from the fire extinguishers and fire itself was also removed, the stove was replaced, and the wall behind it was repaired.
No judicial action has been taken in this case as of press time.
“At the end of the day we just want to find out what the cause was, and educate students on how to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” she said. “It’s all lessons we’re learning. We’re just looking to better the situation.”
Stephanie Bower can be reached at email@example.com.