Neighbors of burned room return after a day away

Jenna Staul

Rachel McGucken ambled down the fourth floor hallway of Verder Hall at 1:30 a.m. yesterday morning clutching an oversized plastic bag stuffed with bedding as she tried to locate the room she would be occupying for the night.

“It’s going to be weird sleeping on a bed with no sheets,” McGucken said.

The freshman nursing major, who lives on the third floor of Prentice Hall, was displaced after the building caught fire earlier in the night.

“The girls from my floor didn’t know what it was,” said McGucken. “They thought it was burnt marshmallows.”

Farther down the fourth floor hallway, a cluster of girls gathered around Prentice Hall roommates Natalie Skrypak, a freshman journalism major, and Elise Groff, a freshman fashion merchandising major, as the two recounted their night.

“Right around 10:15 p.m. we smelled a smell like campfire,” Skrypak said. “It smelled like someone was making s’mores.”

The comfort of a campfire-like aroma soon dissipated, said Groff, once residents got word that a fire had broke out on the floor.

“People were running and yelling ‘There’s a fire,'” Groff said of exiting the building. “It was chaotic.”

Emma Eckert, a freshman architecture major and second-floor Prentice Hall resident, held an armful of personal belongings as she entered the hall the next day along a sidewalk lined with caution tape.

“I took my time,” Eckert said of leaving the building. “I didn’t panic. If I had known it was around the corner from me, I might not have.”

Once outside, she soon realized the seriousness of the situation.

“We stood there and watched the metal melting off the building,” Eckert said.

Eckert said she was relieved no one was injured in the blaze.

“All of my stuff is in there,” Eckert said. “But it’s just stuff. I’m really just happy no one was injured.”

Greg Jurica, assistant residence hall director of Prentice Hall, said he was pleased with the evacuation of the building and the relocation of Prentice residents.

“It was easy to detect that there was a high level of concern among residents,” Jurica said. “We were relieved once we knew that there were no injuries. It’s our job to be on hand to calm people down, help place people and let the clean up begin.”

Jurica, who lives and is the RA in Dunbar Hall, said he was not alerted of the fire by phone but by the noise created during the incident.

“I heard a large amount of commotion, and I wandered out,” Jurica said. “We did the best we could.”

Eckert, for her part, was eager to get back into her room and settle down after the eventful night.

“It was a little bit crazier than I wanted it be,” Eckert said.

Contact student politics reporter Jenna Staul at [email protected].