EUGENE, Ore. — Hundreds of University of Oregon students spent Tuesday afternoon on the lawn outside their dorms, after a basement-dorm fire led to the evacuation of the entire residence complex.
Fire crews say the blaze began in the basement of Dunn Hall, sending smoke through the stairways and setting off fire alarms through all of Hamilton complex. The complex houses 800 students; luckily many of them were at class when the fire started around 11 a.m., but hundreds were still inside.
Students say they made use of their fire drill skills and headed for the stairs, but they weren’t the safe exits they were hoping for.
“When we opened the stair well, it was just filled with smoke. You couldn’t really walk in the stairwell at all, I know some people did, but we weren’t going to, but we didn’t because there was way too much smoke to go down it,” said Taylor Hill, Dunn Hall Resident.
Much of that originating from the basement janitor closet where crews say the fire started.
“There was definitely some stuff that was burning down there. We let the smoke up through the stair chamber to get the smoke out,” said Battalion Fire Chief Lance Lighty, Eugene Fire Department.
Dunn’s fire alarm triggered all alarms throughout Hamilton Complex, evacuating a few hundred kids. Fire crews say it could have been worse though, if it had been at night.
“Luckily this was during the day, when most kids are in class; if this would have happened at night, there would have been more people to get out of the building,” Lighty said.
Crews were able to get the fire out in about 15 minutes, but it took a good chunk of the day to air out all the smoke.
“The good news is that there was no damage involved. There’s going to be some smoke, it’s going to smell like there was a fire, but didn’t damage the building,” said Phil Weiler, UO spokesmen.
The university says all halls, except Dunn where the fire happened, were re-opened shortly after 11 a.m. Smoke cleared enough so that Dunn residents could get back into their rooms just after 1 p.m.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.