More than 50 students who were displaced Monday after a dryer fire in The Dakota will have to wait until early next week to move back into their rooms.
The students were temporarily placed into Amsterdam and Mitchell halls while the University cleans rooms touched by flames or soaked by sprinklers on The Dakota’s bottom five floors. University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said the students would have to stay out until at least next Tuesday. Students were originally told they could move back in Friday.
The fire, which was extinguished in about a half hour, triggered an evacuation at about 2:30 p.m. Monday. Six D.C. Fire and EMS trucks arrived at 21st and F streets about five minutes later, and flames were extinguished by 3 p.m.
Sherrard said it was “premature” to provide details about how the fire started in the dryer or comment on the cost of damage. She also said it was too early to provide the cost for restoring the rooms, which suffered water damage and will require the University to remove drywall and ceiling tiles to install necessary drying equipment.
University property manager Paris Rossiter said dryer fires are rare, adding that a number of factors could have played into the malfunction.
“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.”
Sophomore Chase Hardin said his fifth floor Dakota room – two doors down from the room where the dryer fire originated – did not sustain any damage, and is angry that he was relocated for the week. He said the University originally told him and his roommates to prepare to stay out of their room for three days, but have now pushed that time back another four days.
He said he has talked with multiple administrators in the housing and facilities offices.
“As far as I know, they’re doing absolutely nothing to my room. They have told me nothing is wrong with my room and nothing is going to be done to it. That is the source of my frustration,” Hardin said.
Sophomore Dakota resident Janica Lee, who was in her room when she heard the alarms, said she saw extensive water damage when she reentered the building.
“Water dripped down the walls and seeped into the carpet. Most people had some things on the floor that got soaked,” Lee said.
A Student Association senator, Alicia Rose, brought the issue to the body’s first meeting Monday. She said she plans to lobby the University to alert students of emergencies quicker. The evacuation took place at about 2:30 p.m., but a notification did not come out until 4:17 p.m. and an official statement hit students’ inboxes at 5 p.m., she said.
“In my opinion, this is absolutely ridiculous. We need to speak out as a student body,” Rose said.
–Chloe Sorvino and Kaya Yurieff contributed to this report.
This article appeared in the September 13, 2012 issue of the Hatchet.