About 440 Hall on Virginia Avenue residents were left homeless for about seven hours Friday after a sprinkler and several fire alarms went off at 5:14 a.m.
Alarms went off after a sprinkler outside room 718 was reportedly tampered with, said Michael Peller, managing director for Business Services.
“We hope that investigation and surveillance tapes will show what exactly happened,” said Rose Kirk, senior property manager for the building.
The sprinkler head sprayed several gallons of water a minute for about 10 to 12 minutes, flooding the third through seventh floors of the building. Water that leaked through the ceilings of each floor seeped into hallways, room entryways and bathrooms.
“There were no reports of any structural damage to the building or any individual losses due to the water,” Kirk said.
Community Facilitators gave students five minutes to return to their rooms after the evacuation to retrieve any items necessary for the next five hours, the estimated amount of time it would take for clean up.
Trammel Crow Company, the building’s private management company brought in wet/dry vacuums and industrial fans to clean up each floor.
“I am annoyed that someone vandalized our sprinkler head,” seventh floor resident Michael Berman said. “If it was a real fire, I would understand, but because this whole thing was caused by someone who was messing around this situation is ridiculous.”
Students who had class took their backpacks and books, while others grabbed pillows, laptops, guitars, clothes, wallets and cell phones and gathered in the HOVA lobby, Hippodrome and Gelman Library to get back to their interrupted sleep.
“The kids were fine,” Building Security Officer Jose Barbosa said. “They did exactly what they were supposed to do, just find a spot and wait.”
HOVA Diner staff served students in the HOVA lobby with a complimentary breakfast, juice and coffee.
“The students are always so good to us that it is a pleasure to take care of them,” said Pete Daudo, HOVA diner kitchen supervisor.
The majority of the restless residents were not allowed inside their rooms until 1:30 p.m., three hours later than expected.
“People have to understand that the inconvenience is for their benefit,” HOVA Office Assistant Justin Manu said.
Efforts to clean, shampoo and dry the HOVA carpeting will continue over the weekend.
“I feel that (University Police), Property Management and (the Community Living and Learning Center) all worked together in the best interest of the students,” HOVA Community Director Matthew Porter said in response to the eight-hour waiting period. “Overall safety is the number one issue.”