Update: The Boston Fire Department and BCPD are investigating the situation, according to Ryan Mulderrig, resident director, in an email update sent out to the residents of Stayer Hall. "The room was unoccupied at the time and no students were injured. While the fire and resulting water from the sprinkler system did cause damage to two suites and some student property, through the efforts of BCPD and the local fire department, the damage was limited," Mulderrig said.
"At this time the residents of the two suites have been displaced while repairs are made. There was some minor water damage to the rooms located below the fire as well," he said.
He said that students should expect a lot of activity in the next few days as crews work to clean the rooms so that students can move back in.
Stayer Hall, also known as the Gate, was evacuated early this morning at 4:30 a.m. due to a fire on the fifth floor. Residents of the 6-floor dorm on Lower Campus were woken up to fire alarms going off with police warning students that it was not a drill, according to Lauren Rever, Assoc. Video Manager for Gavel Media and A&S'14, who is a resident of Stayer.
"I can't emphasize enough how terrifying those first moments were to wake up in a flashing room to a woman's voice yelling about an emergency and to get out," said Rever.
BC Emergency sent out text messages and emails to every student that a fire was reported in Stayer Hall and to "evacuate involved buildings" as well as to "avoid the area" around 4:40 a.m. Another message came at 5:15 a.m. giving details about the fire. "Single room fire in Stayer Hall has been extinguished," it read.
Fr. Don MacMillan, SJ, the resident minister of the dorm, told students that there was one room on the fifth floor that was "badly scorched" and they needed to check the rooms under it, according to Rever. After waiting outside for some time, Robsham Theater was opened to allow students to wait inside out of the cold, while some students found creative places to sleep, including the Vandy Cabaret room.
The Boston Fire Department tweeted that the fire was caused by "smoking material that came in contact with a sofa and clothes" and that the sprinkler was activated and contained the fire. Although the "smoking material" has not been confirmed, Rever said that she thinks it is possible that it was caused by a hookah a student was smoking or had left on.
"I heard a kid yelling that his hookah was still on," she said. Rever said she saw the same unidentified student filling out forms with the police later.
Around 7 a.m., BC Emergency sent out another blast of emails and text messages letting the students know that the emergency had ended and that students were allowed back into the building.
Students were able to return to their rooms by 7 a.m., once the area was secured. Not all were able to return as the sprinklers caused some water damage, according to Rever, who thinks the water may have caused damaged all the way to the second floor. The Boston Fire Department said that although the damage totaled $10,000, there were no injuries.