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Early Morning Fire Evacuates EC; Some Sleep Through Alarm

By Karen E. Robinson
ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR

Residents of East Campus’ east parallel evacuated their rooms early Thursday morning when smoke from a self-cleaning oven on the fifth floor set off fire alarms. West parallel residents were not evacuated.

Erik A. Nielsen ’02, a resident of Fifth East, said that he found the smoke coming from an oven which was in self-clean mode. After turning the oven off, he and other residents opened kitchen windows to dispel smoke, Nielsen said.

Smoke activated detectors at 3:13 a.m. although there was no fire, according to a Cambridge Fire Department incident report.

Nielsen said that after smoke alarms went off, students noticed flames in the oven, although the incident report says there was no fire. The oven was stuck in self-clean mode and the oven door locked shut after a resident opened it once, Nielsen said.

“If the oven door hadn’t locked we probably would have just put it out,” Nielsen said.

According to Nielsen, Campus Police arrived to the scene in about six minutes and promptly extinguished the fire.

Several slept through alarm

While no major damage resulted from the fire, the incident has raised concern among EC residents because not all students heard the fire alarms. East Campus House Manager Geri-Lyn Bowen is currently gathering information from several students who did not hear the alarms, she said. Fifth East residents said that there were approximately 10 such students.

Fifth east resident Peter R. Gamache ’01, who lives about 30 feet from the hall kitchen, was among those who slept through the alarms, he said. “I found out [about the alarms and evacuation] this morning... zephyring a friend,” Gamache said.

In addition, he sound made by the fire alarm may have been too misleading for residents to realize it was in fact an alarm.

Hall residents compared the sound of the fire alarms to a power drill. One described it as being “a sound you wouldn’t hear normally.”

“A good fire alarm should sound like all Hell is breaking loose,” Gamache said.

Another hall resident, Anna B. Folinsky ’02, said she woke up due to a combination of people pounding on her door and talking as well as the fire alarm noise.

Alarms to be tested

Officials are “working on updating all the dorms,” replied Bowen in response to a question about EC’s compliance with current building and fire codes.

EC fire alarms will be tested at 1:00 p.m. Friday.