Prentice Hall fire started by lamp, says Kent Fire Department report

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Last week’s Prentice Hall fire was started by a lamp, according to a Kent Fire Department report, which also stated the fire was unintentional.

Based on interviews and what was found at the scene, the report said the student who lived in the room threw some clothes on the lamp, which was lying on a beanbag chair, and went down the hall to another room.

James Williams, chief of the Kent Fire Department, said that the lamp had a “touch” switch that could be turned on easily if bumped. He concluded the lamp was turned on, and it ignited the plastic material in the beanbag chair.

After the room’s resident, Arianne Gasser, smelled smoke, she opened the windows and searched for the origin of it. Seeing that it was coming from the beanbag chair, she picked up some of the clothing and the fire grew, at which point she exited the room.

“We view this as an accident,” Williams said.

Williams said that as firefighters were searching Prentice Hall for other occupants last Tuesday, he saw curling irons and hair straighteners lying on students’ beds.

“I would encourage students to be more careful about those types of items,” he said.

Williams said the fire damage was contained to just one room because the door was closed. Much more damage occurred in the Allyn Hall fire in September 2005, he said, because the door to the room where the fire started was left open.

Betsy Joseph, director of Residence Services, said three students had filed claims for property losses as of Friday.

The three students live in rooms near 244, where the fire started. Items reported lost were two laptops, a cell phone and a carpet, all because of water damage from fighting the fire.

Joseph said students still have a chance to file claims. The deadline is Friday, according to the Residence Services’ Web site.

Associate treasurer David Young said students who have already filed claims should be reimbursed either this week or next week through legal affairs. Young said he probably won’t know definite numbers on exactly how much property was damaged for another month.

Ed Moisio, fire prevention and safety coordinator at Kent State, said the smoke detectors worked correctly. He said about 50 were activated. He said the smoke detector in Room 244 did not go off right away because students opened the windows, letting the smoke out. When they closed the door, it was activated.

Moisio said the smoke detectors and pull stations are checked once a year in every building. Each room is also checked for fire hazards.

Contact safety reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].