Fire reported in South Campus Commons Building Sunday night

Firefighter starts to bring hoses in after the fire was put out. (Photo by Heather Kim)
Firefighter starts to bring hoses in after the fire was put out. (Photo by Heather Kim)

A small trash compactor fire in Building 5 of South Campus Commons left students waiting in the cold for over an hour on Sunday night.

The fire was first reported on Twitter by Evan Berkowitz of the Diamondback.

Michael Errigo, a senior journalism major who lives in Building 5, said he saw smoke in the trash room on the sixth floor. He then alerted Resident Director Sarah Longwell.

Longwell went to the first floor trash room to find the source of the smoke and then pulled the fire alarm, calling the Prince George’s County Fire Department.

Students stood waiting outside both the front and the back of the building as the PGFD and Campus Police arrived. Fire trucks were parked at the back of the building.

About half an hour into the evacuation, the PGFD began to run hoses into the building and soon pumped water in. Water also flooded into the parking lot where students waited.

Students waited outside for over an hour before an "All Clear" was called. (Photo by Heather Kim)
Students waited outside for over an hour before an “All Clear” was called. (Photo by Heather Kim)

After five minutes of pumping water, PGFD cut off the water supply and began bringing the hoses back to the truck.

PGFD Captain Dave Peterson said the incident was simply a “small fire in the trash compactor.” The cause was unknown.

Once the hoses were out, UMCP said they were, “just airing out the building.”

Students were not kept very informed during the evacuation. When asked, many had heard no more than that the fire started in the trash compactor.

Peter Kruse, senior electrical engineering major, had been waiting outside for almost an hour in only a T-shirt. When asked how he felt, he said, “Cold. I’m ready to go back inside.” 

The fire alarm went on and off a few more times for a short duration around 9:44 p.m. There appeared to be a PGFD member working with the alarm system.

An “All Clear” was issued at 9:52 p.m. despite the lingering smell of smoke in the building. Students flooded back into Building 5, some of them from outside, some of them from other buildings. South Campus Commons staff thanked the students for their patience, but declined to comment on the event.

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