Four Duke undergraduates suddenly found themselves without a home Wednesday night when their Chapel Hill Road house caught on fire.
The cause of the fire was not immediately apparent, said Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek, though possibilities include a lightning strike or a malfunctioning clothes dryer.
Wasiolek visited the affected students shortly after the fire broke out, along with Vice President of Student Affairs Larry Moneta and Zoila Airell, assistant vice president of student affairs for campus life.
"The students were very calm, and they were just trying to prepare to make decisions about how to handle their housing from here on out," Wasiolek said. "We were just all so thankful that no one was hurt."
The fire broke out at some point between 8:00 and 8:30 pm, said Durham Fire Department Bernard Greene. Putting out the flames required 30 to 40 minutes of work by the firefighters.
"There were a lot of flames," Greene said. "It was a big fire on arrival. They're probably not going to be able to live in [the house] anytime soon."
Wasiolek said that no was hurt, as none of the residents were in the house when the fire broke out—all four were next door with fraternity brothers, in a house also occupied by Duke students.
The house is still standing, but significant structural damage is apparent, including large missing sections of the roof and walls.
The students were able to briefly return to the house to gather some clothing, Wasiolek said. They stayed with their fraternity brothers next door Wednesday evening and are currently deciding on more permanent arrangements.
Brian Grossi, who lives across the street, was among the first to call 911.
"I got home from work and saw the house was burning," Grossi said.
When he noticed the fire, it was apparent that the residents were next door, he said.
"I knocked on the door and they all came pouring out," he said. "It was burning pretty good."
This story was updated at 7:15 p.m. Thursday to reflect new information.