Dakota dryer fire forces more than 50 students to temporarily relocate

Firefighters prepare to enter The Dakota, after residents were evacuated Monday due to a dryer fire on the fifth floor. Francis Rivera | Photo Editor

Updated: Sept. 11, 2012, 12:59 a.m.

A dryer caught fire on the fifth floor of The Dakota Monday afternoon.

There were no injuries and firefighters extinguished flames by 3 p.m., University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said.

But at least 52 students will move to Amsterdam or Mitchell halls until the University clears rooms of damage from  the fire or sprinkler system, Sherrard said. Students will have to stay out of the affected rooms – which were on the fifth floor and below –  for at least three days, she added.

“Property Management and staff from the Center for Student Engagement have been on-site within the building to help students catalog and facilitate the cleaning of their belongings,” she added. “A representative from Risk Management on-site is available to answer any questions students have about how to submit an insurance claim for property damage.”

D.C. Fire and EMS put two ladders up at the residence hall on 21st and F streets and climbed up to the roof. Both streets were blocked off as six firetrucks responded to the scene.

Students were evacuated at about 2:30 p.m. Smoke could be smelled on scene.

Sherrard said students were allowed to re-enter at 6:30 p.m.

University property manager Paris Rossiter said dryer fires are rare, adding that a number of factors could have played into the malfunctioning.

“This is the first time I’ve heard of it,” Rossiter said. “The fire department got here very fast. The resident did the right thing. He saw smoke and called UPD.”

Sherrard said information was not yet available on potential damage, but sprinklers only went off in the affected room. Rooms in The Dakota offer in-unit washers and dryers.

Sophomore Lauryn King, who lives on the sixth floor of The Dakota, said residents had to transfer stairwells at the second floor because one set of stairs does not include a first-floor exit – forcing students to climb back up one flight to leave.

“It was pretty concerning and was a major point of confusion,” she said.

“You could smell [the smoke] as soon as you went into the stairwell,” sophomore Will Healy, who lives on the ninth floor, said. He added that he saw water from the sprinklers leaking through the ground floor’s light fixtures as he exited the building.

Chloe Sorvino, Matthew Kwiecinski and Cory Weinberg contributed to this report.

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