University, safety officials review damage from fire

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Megan Paprella, freshman fashion merchandising major, looks out the window of her room yesterday after the second floor short wing of Prentice Hall was reopened to residents at 6 p.m. Paprella was surprised to see no damage in her room, especially after s

Credit: DKS Editors

WATCH videos and VIEW photos of the fire, and LISTEN to witnesses recount the blaze.

Students from most of Prentice Hall returned to their rooms after noon yesterday. Residents of the short wing of the second floor where the fire originated were allowed to return after 6 p.m.

The cleanup from the fire began after the fire department left. University architect Tom Euclide said Room 244, where the fire started, won’t be reconstructed until the summer. The room is currently uninhabitable.

Dean Tondiglia, assistant chief of Kent State police, said the preliminary damage estimate to the property was $150,000.

Firefighters from eight departments responded to the blaze. Students had evacuated by the time firefighters arrived.

James Williams, chief of the Kent Fire Department, said the fire probably started as a result of a lamp touching a bed or beanbag chair.

The report on the exact cause of the fire should be completed in a few days, he said.

“It’s looking as though there was a faulty lamp of some sort,” Tondiglia said.

Casey Zimmerman, freshman communications major, knows the girl who lived in Room 244. She said her lamp was not turned on.

Williams said Room 244 was completely gutted and there was significant smoke damage in the hallways of the second and third floors as well as water damage in the short wing from fighting the fire. The water also seeped into the first floor cafeteria.

Tondiglia saw Room 244.

“You can kind of make out where there was a bed,” he said. “The refrigerator was just a melted pile of plastic.”

Prentice Café should be ready to re-open today at 9 a.m. and Munchies Market should re-open tonight, according to the Dining Services Web site.

Williams said damage from the flames was confined to the one room.

“I think the students did a good job by making sure all the doors were closed when they were leaving,” he said.

Betsy Joseph, director of Residence Services, said in an e-mail that the department does not expect Prentice residents, apart from those who live in the room where the fire occurred, to have any property damage.

She said students who did experience property damage could fill out forms from the lobby area with Laura De’Armond, the residence hall director.

Prentice residents will be updated through e-mail, and through the Residence Services Web site.

Zimmerman said everything in her room was saturated with smoke, but she said her laptop was undamaged.

Joseph said the fire alarm system in Prentice operated the way it was supposed to.

“Smoke initially was being blown out of the window, and that’s why it did not activate the smoke detector,” Joseph said. “When students saw flames in the room, the fire alarm was activated, and the room door was closed to keep the fire and smoke from spreading down the hallway and causing more damage.”

The university’s insurance adjusters will inspect Prentice today.

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