This article was updated 11:51 p.m. Thursday to reflect new information.
Forty students were relocated to different dormitories for the night due to a fire that broke out on the third floor of Brown Residence Hall Thursday night.
Staff members were present in the basement of the Marketplace until midnight in order to assign misplaced residents to open dormitory rooms, said Associate Dean for East Campus LB Bergene. Students from the first and second floor were allowed to return to their rooms by 11:30 p.m.
“I was right across the hall from where the fire started, but I’m told that there isn’t anything more than just some smoke damage, which is good," said Max Kramer, a third-floor freshman in Brown. "I was expecting to have to get a new laptop or something so I’m very satisfied with the way things are turning out. I can’t stay here for the night, but they found a room on East for me so I think that’s okay.”
A student noticed smoke coming out of his third floor room—Brown 302—and fire alarms sounded in the building shortly after. Officials believe the fire started because a backpack leaning against a radiator combusted into flames, according to a Duke News article. The fire was confined to the room because the student closed the door.
Emergency Coordinator Kyle Cavanaugh said the residents were evacuated safely and there were no injuries reported. Smoke and water filled the third floor and some water seeped onto the second floor, however there was no structural or water damage to any other rooms in the residence hall, the Duke News article noted.
“It’s under control. They’re talking with the gentlemen whose room it was right now to determine how it happened and how it started,” Allied Barton Security employee Brad Beeke said shortly after first responders arrived. “Everything is secure at this point. They’re just dealing with the aftermath.”
Brown residents were not allowed in the dormitory until the fire crew assessed the damage of the building.
“Even [Duke staff] can’t go in until the fire department has sounded the building.” Bergene said shortly after the fire was put out. “They want to make sure there’s no hot spots, there’s nothing else, and it’s quite frankly too smoky in there.”
Brown residents were concerned about the state of their residence hall but also surprised to have a fire in the building.
“We were in Marketplace and we saw a swarm of people just run out. I emerge onto the quad to see red lights flashing and fire hoses leading in to Brown. I ask what’s going on and someone provides, ‘Brown is on fire,’” Brown resident and freshman Drew Wang said. “Right now we’re a little concerned about getting our stuff out of our room so that we can do some schoolwork tonight, but we also feel very bad for our fellow Brownies.”
Some residents were excited by the presence of emergency responders even though they were concerned about the state of the residence hall.
“I’m actually really torn right now between extremely excited that something like this actually happened and thinking that my room might be under the room that was on fire and thinking that I might have severe water damage,” Brown resident and freshman Kasper Kubica said. “But at the same time this is so exciting,”
Danielle Muoio contributed reporting.