*Updated 12:55 a.m. April 21*
A fire broke out before 6:50 p.m. in a stove on the eighth-floor common room of Harbin Hall Wednesday.
According to the D.C. Fire Department, the fire began when a student put a pizza in the oven to cook at 375-degree temperatures when the pizza was still in its box. The stove was removed from the kitchen area and placed in the middle of the eighth-floor common room. No permanent damage was sustained to the area.
Maggie Larkin (COL ’13) arrived back to the eighth floor to find smoke in the common room. She said she opened the stove door, found smoke billowing out of the opening and then closed the stove door to open a window in the common room. When she went to open the stove door a second time, she said she found flames inside.
Larkin dialed the number for Facilities and knocked on doors to tell people to evacuate.
According to Vice President for Housing and Facilities Karen Frank, the Department of Public Safety received the alarm signal at 6:45 p.m.
When asked for comment, Director of Media Relations Andy Pino said in an e-mail, “There was a small kitchen fire on the 8th floor of Harbin that set off the alarms. The building was evacuated. DPS and Facilities responded to the initial alarm, and facilities personnel used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire. D.C. Fire Department arrived, checked out the building, ventilated the smoke and cleared it so that people could go back in.”
At 7:07 p.m., students were permitted inside Harbin by members of the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services.
Frank said custodial staff wiped down walls and cabinets and cleaned the floor and carpet to diminish the effects of smoke, as well as residue and odor from the fire extinguisher.
The stove, Frank added, “will be evaluated [Thursday] and cleaned or replaced as appropriate.”
According to eighth-floor residents, when a student initially tried pulling the fire alarm on the eighth floor, the alarm did not react. A resident then pulled the fire alarm on the sixth floor, which reacted with a slight delay, according to Larkin.
Frank said all normal alarm procedure was in effect. “All fire protection systems, including the fire alarm, functioned as they should. DPS was notified of an active alarm by the fire alarm system due to a smoke detector at the eighth floor lounge of Harbin Hall,” she said. DPS and Facilities staff each responded to the incident immediately, in line with fire emergency standards.
The alarm systems, which comprise devices like sprinklers and smoke detectors, are regularly inspected and tested by an external specialty company hired by the university, according to Frank. “There were no deficiencies in Harbin at the time of inspection or tonight,” she said.
Although none of the emergency sprinklers in the building went off as a result of the incident, Frank said the sprinklers were not triggered because the fire had been contained to the oven and maintenance workers put out the fire before it could set off the sprinklers.
– Hoya Staff Writers Laura Engshuber, Bonnie Duncan and Elizabeth Rowe contributed to this report.
**Editor’s Note:** An earlier version of this article quoted a Harbin resident saying the eighth-floor common room oven exploded as a result of the fire. The article was updated once the D.C. Fire Department confirmed the details of the incident.”