Residence halls suffer second fire in a week

MU students vacated Hudson and Gillett during a night alarm.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:45 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The second fire in less than a week broke out in the Hudson and Gillett residence halls Sunday night, forcing more than 900 students to evacuate the buildings.

The fire was caused by the overheated motor of a box fan in a basement maintenance room in Hudson, said Kristen Temple, associate director of residential life at MU.

Students evacuated the buildings around 10:30 p.m. They were allowed to return to their rooms less than an hour later, according to the Columbia Fire Department.

The first fire, which was the larger of the two, occurred last Tuesday when an electrical transformer malfunctioned in the basement of Rollins. The power was shut off, and Hudson and Gillett were evacuated around 8:45 p.m, according to a letter Temple sent by e-mail to all students living on campus.

Students returned to their rooms around 2 a.m. the next morning.

The Columbia Fire Department and university officials said the two fires are unrelated events. They occurred in separate parts of the Hudson-Gillett complex and had different causes.

“There was no relation (between the fires),” Columbia Fire Department Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said. “It was just a set of coincidences that we had two incidences in the same week in the same facility.”

Fire alarms have gone off four times in the past two weeks in the Hudson and Gillett residence halls. All four have gone off during the night.

Students in the residence halls said they are becoming frustrated with the frequency of the fire alarms.

“Yesterday was the fourth time in less than two weeks that they’ve gone off,” said Dan Schell, a resident of Gillett. “It’s really annoying, actually, especially when someone pulled the fire alarm at 4 a.m. last week.”

Temple said that although the fire alarms have gone off multiple times in the past few weeks, only two situations

were actual fires. The others were a false alarm and vandalism.

Sunday night’s fire was small, and students and parents should not be alarmed, Temple said.

“We were very fortunate it was in a space were it was contained,” she said. “There was a smoke detector that almost immediately caught it, and we were able to get everyone out of the building quickly and safely.”

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