Union, NJ – Residence hall fire put out by sprinkler system; No injuries

A lit candle caused a fire on Jan. 17 in Upperclassman Residence Hall and triggered the sprinkler system causing water damage to parts of the building, according to University spokesperson, Margaret McCorry.

The candle fire broke out in a student’s bedroom on the seventh floor of the Upperclassman Residence Hall. The fire was quickly put out by the building’s sprinkler system, keeping the fire from stretching beyond the bedroom. No injuries were sustained in response to the fire.

“The safety of our students is our top priority,” said Maximina Rivera, Assistant Vice President of the Office of Residential Student Services. “We thank our first responders and others who helped ensure our students were safe during this incident.”

Water from the sprinkler system flowed into the hallway of the seventh floor, as well as into rooms on the sixth floor, fifth floor, and the dining hall kitchen area. This resulted in saturated carpets and damage to personal property, according to Rivera in an email sent to Upperclassman Hall residents.

“It sucked because we couldn’t get to our rooms till two in the morning,” said Andrea Antall, junior and Upperclassman Hall resident, in reference to the night of the fire. “ I didn’t have anything to do. I had full day of classes the next day and I couldn’t really sleep. It was just a real shitty night.”

On the night of the fire, the students were mostly lingering around outside the dorms. Antall said it was about three or four hours before they finally got back to the room. She couldn’t remember if there was an official notice sent out to let them know they could return to their dorms. She just remembers people yelling they can go back inside of the building.

“It was really cold,” said Antall. “We actually went to Freshman Residence Hall because my teammates were living in there. So we stayed with them for a few hours until we were let back in the rooms.”

Antall lives on the fifth floor of Upperclassman Residence Hall. It did not just affect her night, but also her week. Antall was unable to get food from the dining hall due to maintenance from the water damage. She had to find food from other places on campus. Cougar’s Den had extended its hours to assist those inconvenienced by the water damaged dining hall, according to Antall.

According to Kean’s 2017- 2018 Resident Student Handbook under violations two, setting or fueling a fire of any size and/or possession of highly flammable materials inside the residence halls, including gasoline, gas can or container ( whether containing fuel or empty), gas-powered vehicles, kerosene, fireworks, candles or incense, live Christmas trees, neon signs, and string of lights are prohibited.

Those who commit violations for the first time receive a warning. After the second time, they are placed on House probation which can last for up to a year. If they receive another violation, the students residence hall contract is terminated. They will have to vacate after 48 hours, they will no longer be allowed to trespass on to the residence hall and a period of termination is placed. If further University disciplinary action is necessary, a written notification to the Office of Community Standards and Student Contact is sent.

“We also thank our students for their patience while we assessed the damage,” said Rivera. “This incident shows how important it is for students to follow policies that strictly prohibit candles in the residence halls.”

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