A fire broke out in Olive Hall during the evening of Aug. 23, sending 5 stories of students out of the building and into the rain. Residents moved in the prior Saturday and had not yet learned the fire protocol for their dorm building.
“I was laying in my bed about to take a nap and was upset, thinking it was just a drill,” said Megan Baggett, a resident of Olive who lives right beside the room where the fire started.
The fire alarm did not sound off due to a drill. There was a fire and damage occurred.
For nearly 5 hours, the residents of Olive Hall were left without any information, wondering if their textbooks, laptops and other irreplaceable items had been destroyed. Many students attempted to ask questions.
Resident Assistants and university employees were unable to give out any information.
“[I wondered] is everything in my room okay?” freshman Harlie Reed said. “Can I stay in my room? Do I have to leave?”
Students were unaware severity of the damage to the building or if they would be allowed to reside in their rooms that night.
At 11 p.m. the night of the incident, students were finally told that there had in fact been a fire and that the west wing of Olive Hall was flooded due to the sprinklers being activated. Residents were allowed to re-enter their dorms and grab their essentials. They were not going to be able to reside in their own beds that night nor nights to come.
Affected residents had one option: temporary housing. Many students, however, went home, thinking that would be an easier option.
“I was relieved my items were all dry and safe, only the things on my floor were wet,” said freshman Megan Baggett, an Olive Hall resident. “Thankfully nothing important had been destroyed.''
The sprinklers on the walls within the west wing rooms had not been triggered, only those in the halls and within the room where the fire began.
In the days after the fire students were displaced, stressed and just wanted answers.
An employee of the Housing and Residence Life Department at UNA revealed that the fire had been the result of an electrical maintenance mistake. A light above the sink within a dorm room on the fifth floor had caught fire, causing the sprinklers to go off and flooding the west wing.
In addition to this incident, on Aug. 28 fire alarms rang once again in Olive Hall. Fire trucks arrived and students were filled with the dread of having to repeat everything they had just gone through once again. Students have not been told what caused this second alarm.
Residents are now able to return and live in their rooms on the west wing but, dehumidifiers, fans and cords have been placed in all of their rooms. Residents like Reed and Baggett find it hard to study, hard to sleep and difficult to focus on anything but the extremely loud noises.