A fire broke out on the fourth floor of Welch Hall shortly after midnight last Tuesday morning. The fire was most likely due to a small refrigerator experiencing an electrical issue, according to Eric Fricke, a spokesman for the City of Newton Fire Department.
A number of rooms on the third and fourth floors experienced water damage because the sprinkler system activated, causing several dozen residents to be temporarily relocated. Overnight housing was provided to six Boston College students.
“Throughout the day, Facilities Services has worked to dry out the affected rooms using dehumidifiers and fans,” University Spokesman Jack Dunn said in an email. “They expect that all students, except those in the room where the fire started, will be able to return to their rooms by this evening.”
Investigators are still determining the reason that the fridge caught fire. Fricke said the refrigerator, which was placed under one of the residents’ beds and was not originally distributed by BC, caught on fire either because it was overfilled, leaving it without “room to breathe,” or because it short-circuited.
Welch residents were forced to wait outside shortly after the fire alarm went off. After a while, they were moved to McElroy Commons. Because the fire activated the sprinkler system, students were not allowed to return to Welch until 3 a.m. When one of the sprinkler heads goes off, the sprinkler company has to replace it, causing the students to be kept away from their dorms for a prolonged period of time.
A burnt bed frame, destroyed mattress, television, and mini fridge were outside of Welch this morning. Glass appeared to be missing from several of the top-floor windows. Fricke said that the windows may have cracked due to the heat of the fire, or firefighters breaking the windows for ventilation.
Fricke sees this incident as a teachable moment for students, which should encourage them to practice safety. He noted that improperly using power strips often causes fires on college campuses. “College students are kind of [unaware of risks],” Fricke said. “What ends up happening is they don’t appreciate the dangers.”