A fire erupted in Mesa Court last Wednesday Feb. 18 at 6:28 p.m. and burned down a room on the first floor of Niebla hall. When fire officials arrived on the scene, the fire had already been extinguished by sprinkler activation within the dorms.
“The sprinkler caused some water damage,” said Orange County Fire Department Public Relations Specialist Dave Romano. “But the water caused considerable less damage than a fire would have.”
Zach Wheatley, a first-year undecided major, remained in his room at the time of the fire. When the fire alarms went off, Wheatley remained in his room thinking that it was just a test. Fire alarms in dormitories have been known to activate by non-fire triggers, such as smoking kitchen appliances, cigarette or marijuana smoke. Later, a friend called him to ask him about the fire trucks outside of his dorm and he immediately tried to leave.
Exiting his room opposite the building that contained the fire, Wheatley noticed the smoke.
Rooms in the fire suite had to be cleared and residents were not allowed to re-enter the hall until close to midnight. The majority of the damages, however, totaling $75,000 to the structure and $2,500 to the contents within, were not caused by the fire.
The cause of the fire itself has yet to be determined pending the results of a UC Irvine fire marshal investigation, but rumors range from lighters to extension cords. What has been verified thus far is that the fire originated on a sofa and spread to the rest of the room.
On the night of the fire, a barbeque recognizing the Orange County Fire Department of station four and the family of the UCIPD was scheduled for 6:45 p.m. before the UCI vs. California State University Northridge basketball game at 8 p.m. Due to the fire the appreciation presentation for the OCFA and UCIPD during the game was delayed until the middle of the first half.
Resident Authoirty’s warned their residents to monitor their rooms because the OCFA will be coming to check dorms for fire safety violations within the next week.