Students and staff evacuated Ivory Tower at about 4 p.m. Tuesday after an elevator’s mechanical problem released fumes into the building.
University Police and the D.C. Fire Department responded to the reports of a gas-like odor throughout the residence hall. Hydraulic fluid from the mechanical room in the second basement level was burning, which triggered the odor, said Matt Lindsay, assistant director of GW Media Relations.
Maintenance personnel from Ambling – the company that manages Ivory Tower and other dormitories – began ventilating the building at about 4:40 p.m. Lindsay said the aeration process could take an hour. UPD officers let students reenter at about 5:25 p.m.
Service elevator No. 2, which operates from the parking garage and ground-floor levels, was closed, said GW Facilities Executive Director Peter Comey. He added that the building was reopened after the Fire Department gave an all-clear.
“As with every situation, after it’s all aerated, we’ll take a look at the machine and do any required maintenance (and) take any precautions,” Lindsay said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon.
Ivory Tower residents, GW Housing staff and food-service employees waited across the street from the building, outside the Lerner Health and Wellness Center. UPD officers encouraged the evacuees to go to the Marvin Center while the building was being cleared and ventilated.
Posters announcing a planned fire drill on Wednesday confused some students who evacuated the building Tuesday afternoon.
-David Ceasar and Brandon Butler