GW officials still do not know what caused a fire alarm and sprinkler to activate in New Hall early Sunday morning.
“As of now we don’t know. It’s still under investigation,” said Jed Frei, community director for New Hall. “We’re looking at videotapes.”
A sprinkler near New Hall room 611 activated Sunday, causing water damage rooms 609, 610, 611, 612 and 510. Residents of room 310 also reported damage. He said there was no structural damage and all the elevators and other systems were still operating.
Senior Mike Whitcher, a resident of room 310, said he heard a noise in his kitchen at about 7 a.m. Sunday. He later discovered the noise was the kitchen light fixture filling with water and falling.
“I thought nothing of it, since I had just gotten back in bed,” he said. “Then I came out to the kitchen at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, and there was water all over floor, the light cover had fallen and broken and everything was wet.”
Whitcher said the room’s microwave was full of water, the stove had water in it and some items on the kitchen table were wet. He said that housekeeping staff arrived quickly.
“Maintenance people came down. They fixed the light pretty quick,” he said.
Junior Mike DeRosa and his roommate Jonathan Degolyer removed most of the standing water from their room before housekeeping staff arrived, sweeping it into trashcans using pizza boxes.
Frei said CLLC staff members went to different rooms telling students what happened, but some students said they still did not know.
“We sent staff around to different floors, and a lot of students came down to find out what was going on,” Frei said. “We tried to dispel rumors.”
“They didn’t really tell us what happened. We just kind of figured it out from the (Monday Hatchet) article,” Wichter said. Students in 306 also said they were not told anything about the situation.
Frei said UPD, the D.C. fire department, community director on duty Amanda Schaefer and the dean on duty, Mark Levine, responded to the alarm. He had no monetary estimate for the damage that occurred in the building.
He said the sprinkler was on for about 20 minutes before fire officials turned it off.
Frei reported that some water may still be in the walls or other areas.
“When you have a flood like that, water follows the pipelines so sometimes it can leak through to other places,” he said. “We’re not worried that lots of water is behind the walls.”
Frei suggested students check their walls for bubbling if they live under the affected rooms.
“We can take care of it,” he said.
Some students who reported damage said they were going to ask the University for compensation. Pippa Castiaux, a resident of room 609, said water damaged some of her textbooks that were on the floor.
Frei said the University will not pay for any damage to students’ property from fire or flood damage.
“In the housing contract, the University is not liable for flood or fire damage, but we’ll replace any University furniture or repair any damage to the room, but not student property,” he said. “At the first community meeting I advised students to take out insurance, and sometimes people’s parents’ home insurance will cover it.”
Overall, students said damage was not extensive.
“I don’t think anything got really ruined,” Whitcher said. “There were a bunch of dishes that needed to be washed anyway, so that kind of helped us out.”