By Katie Quaranta
A small fire at Bromley Hall on Wednesday afternoon resolved safely, thanks to the building's fire suppression system and the quick response time of the Athens Fire Department.
Students immediately evacuated the building when the fire set off sprinklers in a sixth-floor room about 1:30 p.m. The fire department arrived shortly thereafter. There were no injuries.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Athens Fire Chief Bob Troxel said it appears to have started in an area where a heat lamp was pointed at a terrarium in the room. He said the fire suppression system worked well and helped extinguish the fire quickly.
"Had there not been a sprinkler, the fire would have been much, much worse," he said.
David Hopka, assistant vice president, safety and risk management, said the quick action of fire department and university personnel limited water damage.
"The sprinklers were only on as long as they needed to be," Hopka said.
Judith Piercy, assistant vice president and director of residence life, said water from the sprinkler that went off in the student room caused damage to some other rooms on the sixth floor and below. The university is still assessing the extent of the damage.
Piercy praised custodial and Residence Life staff, who worked well into the night to clean the building. She also commended the many students who worked side by side to help one another and the staff.
"The students were amazing. They kept their spirit through all of this," she said. "I think it was an example of everyone coming together to make the best of a crisis."
Students who lived in the room with the fire and in a room sharing an adjacent bathroom were relocated to other rooms in Bromley. They will be able to move back once the rooms are cleaned and the sprinklers and smoke detectors are restored. The university will provide all students who were displaced with alternate accommodations as long as necessary.
Staff recommended to all students involved that they track any damages.
"Many students may be covered by their home policies and should check to see if that's the case," Hopka said.
The university housing contract recommends students contact their insurance companies to acquire personal property coverage because university insurance policies cannot cover individuals' possessions.