Charleston, IL – Residence hall fire at Eastern Illinois University doused by sprinkler system

Incense that was lit and unattended was found to be the cause of a closet fire that occurred at about 7:15 p.m. on the fifth floor, room 5G, in Stevenson Hall Thursday. The Charleston Fire Department responded to the fire at 7:31 p.m.

Mark Hudson, the director of university Housing and Dining, said the heat from the fire, which damaged a corner of the closet, activated the sprinkler system and “quickly” doused the flames. Having candles, incense and any other open flames goes against housing policy, Hudson said.

“There is minor damage to the room from the fire, but the water sprinklers going on caused additional issues in the building,” said Hudson.

Hudson said other suites got wet from the system but were cleaned by the building service workers, and electricians came to replace smoke detectors in the room with fire damage and others affected by water. Those who lived in the room affected by the fire were all moved to a different suite within the building.

Hudson said the student who caused the fire came forward, but he was not able to release the student’s name yet because of everything still being a part of the overall investigation.

The student responsible for the fire will face disciplinary action from the university.  “It’s a very serious situation because it’s safety violation; they went against the rules of the building in terms of its fire safety,” Hudson said.

Hudson said the damage cost of the fire and water was uncertain, but the building is fully open to students except for the room where the fire occurred.

Students that were evacuated from the building were not allowed to enter until 10:45 p.m. and those who were eating during the time of the fire were given meal credit, said Hudson.

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