No people are hurt in Lee fire, but a microwave falls victim

Johann Qua Hiansen | Student Life

The remnants of the microwave after catching on fire on the 2nd floor of Lee.

Holy smokes! A fire alarm went off in Lee Hall on the South 40 on Thursday. The acrid smell of smoke filled the halls of the residential building, indicating that this was no drill.

The fire on the second floor of Lee was caused by a microwave oven.

“It was not an intentional fire set or anything like that,” said Don Strom, chief of the Washington University Police Department.

Students in the building were evacuated immediately and there were no injuries.

Strom said that a police officer put the fire out with a fire extinguisher.

According to Paul Mercurio, assistant chief of the Clayton Fire Department, the fire was already extinguished when firefighters arrived but there was still “quite a bit of smoke there.”

“[The] floor smelled a little weird,” said freshman Melissa Turkel, a resident of the floor. “I went in my room, grabbed a few things, then went to Beaumont.” Turkel heard her residential advisers on the phone with WUPD as she was leaving.

The firefighters on the scene worked to clear the smoke from the second floor of the dormitory.

Another resident, freshman Annelies DeVos, was moving her laundry when the alarm went off.

“There were already police there when I went outside,” DeVos said.

Mercurio said that the microwave’s wooden stand also ignited from the heat of the microwave.

It is unclear what caused the microwave to catch fire.

“We did not find anything in the microwave,” Mercurio said. “Nothing was burned in the food compartment of the section. It didn’t look like anyone had neglected food that they were cooking.”

The damages to the building are not yet known.

According to students at the scene, at least three fire trucks responded to the fire; an unknown number of ambulances were on the scene. A Student Life staff member who approached the dormitory was stopped about 25 feet away from the building by a police officer because of the fire.

There had been fire drills throughout the dorms scheduled for sometime on Thursday, and the ventilation systems in the building had been cleaned on Wednesday.

  • Daniel Caldera

    “Holy Smokes”?

    I don’t know if this eclipses “Doe, a deer a female deer” in corny yet amusing cliche usage in Stud Life news articles, but it might come close. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for a Jill Carnaghi quote, or, in light of your good relationship, “a call placed to Jill Carnaghi’s office was not returned.” I guess there’s always Libel…

  • University officials should look closely at the cause of this fire if the microwave oven was a General Electric model. These ovens have been self-starting and causing fires for years. There are several Federal lawsuits in progress and these units are dangerous! Just look here for one example: