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Oil fire in Crescent forces residents to move temporarily
Martin ran down the hallway of his Crescent dorm to the kitchen, where he said he saw a pot on the stove top with flames about a foot high coming out of it. His roommate had been cooking some sort of Mexican food dish for an event on campus.
The roommate was cooking with oil, and the oil was what caught on fire in the pot on the stove top.
Martin said it was a big enough fire to be concerned. His first thought was to find the fire extinguisher.
However, Martin and his roommates could not find it.
“I was thinking, ‘quick, let’s find a fire extinguisher and put it out before we’re the idiots that set off the fire alarm,’” Martin said. “We were looking around, but we didn’t know where our fire extinguisher was. Turns out it’s under the sink, but that was pretty near the fire, so we weren’t looking there.”
At that point, the smoke had built up heavily, and the fire alarm was set off. As other residents of Crescent began evacuating, Martin’s neighbor came out of his room. Martin asked the neighbor if he knew where his fire extinguisher was, and ran into the room and grabbed the neighbor’s extinguisher.
“Luckily, I know how to use a fire extinguisher,” Martin said. “I pulled the pin and everything and used the fire extinguisher on the fire, put it out, but even that made more smoke.”
Crescent 356 was completely full of black smoke after the fire was extinguished, according to Martin.
Martin’s roommates had already evacuated, but he stayed in the room to make sure the fire was out.
A public safety officer arrived shortly thereafter.
“When (public safety) walked in, this was the one scary part… he walked in and then I couldn’t see him,” Martin said. “It was just a black room of smoke and I couldn’t even see him… and he was like five feet away.”
The first fire truck arrived at 8:43 p.m. The fire was out when the Fire Department reached the York Hill campus, although the suite was full of smoke, according to Lunn.
“(We) set up larger positive pressure ventilation fans in the building,” Lunn said. “It took a while for the smoke to clear because we didn’t want residual fire in the building.”
Martin did end up leaving the room shortly after public safety arrived because he was having trouble breathing.
“When everything was over, (the fire department) had to talk to us a little,” Martin said. “The fire marshal did tell us directly that because I put out the fire before they had arrived, that made a huge difference because if we hadn’t done anything, the fire just would have spread and gone up the walls, maybe even gone upstairs.”
Lunn explained the impact putting out the fire at the scene had.
“There’s a cap (solder) over the sprinklers and that solder melts at 135 degrees,” Lunn said. “The closest sprinkler cap had already melted at 135 degrees. They put (the fire out) right before the sprinklers would have activated. The downside of the sprinklers going off is it would have been going off till Fire Department got there. They definitely saved money by using extinguisher to put fire out.”
As far as damages, Martin said the fire itself hadn’t really burnt anything but the stove top. However, the entire common room had a layer of soot on everything.
Hamden firefighters also poked holes with an ax and chopped open the wall to make sure that flames didn’t get inside the wall.
Residential Life told the residents it could be a couple of days, but less than a week before they would be able to return to Crescent.
On Sunday, Martin made a post on Facebook about what happened. He wanted to send a notice to other students.
“Take note of where your fire extinguisher is in your bedroom and wherever you work. It’s the kind of thing that you should know when you need it,” Martin said. “I wanted to make it clear. I don’t want anyone else to have a similar situation and have not have someone take care of it.”