Allyn Hall fire cause may take months to figure out

Stephanie Park

The cause of the fire in Allyn Hall Monday morning remains unknown.

“It will most likely be several weeks to several months before we come to a final conclusion,” said Chief James Williams of the Kent Fire Department. “It may end up being classified as undetermined. Because of all the destruction in the room, we may not find out what started it.”

In order to determine how a fire starts, firefighters and insurance companies must reconstruct the room and arrange belongings to the way they were before the fire started, Williams said.

The electrical equipment that survives the blaze is analyzed by electrical engineers who work with insurance companies to determine why the fire began, Williams said.

There are several safety precautions students living in residence halls should take, Williams said. He said all residents should avoid using extension cords in their rooms.

“(These) cords are not rated for permanent wiring,” he said. “They are used for short duration.”

Cord strips or outlet strips with breakers should be used instead, Williams said.

He added the biggest safety concern is for students to exit the building quickly.

“The concern we had was that students ignored the doors and the alarms,” Williams said.

Residents on the third floor didn’t immediately respond to police officers knocking on their doors, Williams said.

“We treated two of the police officers for (smoke) inhalation — they were banging on the doors,” he said. “The most important factor is that when the alarms go off — leave the building.”

Safety is also the number one priority for Residence Services Director Betsy Joseph. She said all residents should read the hallways handbook and familiarize themselves with the fire regulations and safety policies.

“It is also critical that every time the fire alarm sounds that students promptly evacuate the building,” Joseph said. “Anyone who saw third floor Allyn this week should realize how important prompt evacuation is when the alarm sounds — never assume it is a false alarm.”

The third and fourth floors in Allyn Hall are scheduled to reopen spring semester, and about 100 residents from these floors received their new room assignments yesterday, Joseph said. She added that she is thankful for the cooperation Residence Services received during this time from residents and their families.

“I want to thank all Allyn Hall residents and their families for their cooperation over the past few days,” she said. “I know the fire has disrupted their lives and impacted the communities they were building on their floors. We will continue to respond to all questions and concerns students have.”

For more information and updates on the condition of Allyn Hall, visit the Residence Services Web site at

Contact room and board reporter Stephanie Park at [email protected].