Firefighters extinguished a fire Wednesday that left a dorm room uninhabitable and forced the evacuation of Anacapa Hall.
The blaze on the ground-floor room shared by freshmen Natasja Swartz and Allison Woods was reported at approximately 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. The residents were not in the room at the time. Resident assistants tried in vain to extinguish the flames while students evacuated the building.
“When I got to the room, I checked the doorknob for heat then opened the door about an inch and a half,” said Associate Resident Director Rolando Flores. “I couldn’t even see, the room was so black with smoke.”
Flores and RA Billy Graham attempted to douse the flames using fire extinguishers but were unsuccessful.
“I tried as best I could but couldn’t get it out,” Flores said. “I couldn’t hit the base of the fire, only the flames.”
The RAs’ efforts to extinguish the fire were substantial, Assistant Fire Marshall Al Yakel said.
“I think they went through about five fire extinguishers trying to put the thing out,” he said.
Flores said that firefighters arrived within five minutes and were able to put the fire out very quickly. It took one firefighter using a one-and-three-quarter-inch hand line hose to put out the blaze, according to Yakel.
Investigators are certain that the fire was accidental and believe that the cause was electrical, Yakel said. The room was left “not livable,” Flores said.
The two residents moved to another room in Anacapa Hall after spending Wednesday night in the dormitory’s lounge room. RA Sarah Niss spent the night with the girls and helped them wash their smoke-saturated clothing.
Flores said he marveled at how his residents and staff reacted to the crisis.
“It was a good evacuation. We had absolutely no injuries,” he said.
An estimate of the amount of damage was unknown.