Freshmen recovering from Halloween received a rude awakening Saturday morning when a kitchen fire forced residents out of the Santa Cruz dormitory.
According to Captain Mark Beason of the Santa Barbara County Fire Dept., the fire started around noon and originated from a microwave — which burst into flames following an electrical malfunction — in the first-floor kitchen. The fire was put out within five minutes, and did not spread beyond the dormitory’s communal kitchen.
“The damage was just the microwave, some kitchen cabinets and the ceiling,” Beason said. “Not too extensive.”
According to Beason, no injuries occurred as a result of the fire, although he estimates there is approximately $5,000 in damages. University staff did not return calls for comment, as of press time.
Annie Engelhardt, a first-year biology major, said the flames blackened the kitchen.
“It makes me kind of nervous, considering I use that microwave,” Engelhardt said. “It could have been me. The whole corner of that kitchen is just black.”
Triggered smoke detectors forced Santa Cruz residents out of the building, and they were not allowed to reenter the premises until 1:39 p.m.
Laura Coey, a first-year communication major, said she was interrupted mid-shower by the fire and forced to vacate the residence hall.
“I was taking a shower and had to come out here in a towel. It was horrible,” Coey said. “When we went out, we saw smoke coming from the 13 and 1400 [wings].”
After being locked out of his room, Max Evoy-Mount said he was also forced outside wearing only his towel.
“So I unlocked my door to take a shower; I didn’t want to take my keys. My roommate locked the door to take a shower,” Evoy-Mount, a first-year biochemistry major said. “Our schedules just did not match… [The fire] made things more interesting.”
Braden Smith, a first-year pre-biology major, said the sounds produced by fire alarms reminded him of a traditional Scottish instrument.
“I was sleeping, and I heard a sound like bagpipes,” Smith said. “I thought it was my refrigerator.”
Meanwhile, Brian Cohen, an undeclared first-year, had a very personal part of his day interrupted by the melting microwave.
“I was dropping a deuce, trying to appreciate the best part of my day [when the alarms went off],” Cohen said.
According to Beason, the fire was handled very effectively and the evacuation of the building was executed smoothly.
“On the positive side, [the students] all got out in a real timely fashion,” Beason said. “I was impressed all the people were already out and were assembled very orderly.”
First-year physics major Jeff Kamdel said the fire did prove beneficial in one respect.
“I didn’t even know we had a microwave,” Kamdel said.