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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Benedict On Fire

    On Monday, Feb. 19, a fire occurred in room E017 of Benedict College in H Quad. The first fire alarm was heard at 9:20 PM, to which police officers and environmental fire marshals first responded.

    The Setauket Fire Department was soon dispatched. The first person to reach the site was James Makarius, the evening fire marshal on duty.

    According to Gary Kaczmarczyk, the Director of Environmental Health and Safety at Stony Brook University (SBU), ‘Makarius observed heavy smoke and flames coming out of the room doorway. He immediately assisted evacuation of students who were staying low and crawling out.’

    Kaczmarczyk commended the students for correctly executing the fire safety procedures. He added that when ‘Makarius was assured that students were safe, he went back with a fire extinguisher to prevent the fire from spreading.’ Makarius entered through the basement window.

    Makarius was successful in minimizing the damage caused by the fire, as the Setauket fire department arrived within minutes.

    While residents from the E0 wing and the upper floor were immediately evacuated, students from both Benedict and the neighboring residence hall, Langmuir, were also asked to leave their building premises.

    Freshman Joseph Khalodenko, from the D wing of Benedict College, said that ‘we went outside for 20 minutes and then everyone went to the main lounge. There we waited for about 14 minutes, and then the RA told us [that] in five minutes people will be allowed to return to their room, except for the E0 students. My friend slept in my friend’s room [because of the fire].’

    The exact cause of the fire is unknown.

    Joanna Friedlander, Senior and Resident Assistant of the D wing of Benedict College, said ‘as far as we know the place of origin was the floor below on a towel rack. Residents were not in the room when the fire started. It wasn’t electrical and only E0 room was closed off.’

    The smoke traveled from the door to the ceiling and into the hallway. The door, part of the ceiling and the wall between them were scorched from fire burns.

    According to Assistant Chief of University Police, Douglas Little, ‘an investigation is in place by New York State fire marshals to understand the circumstances surrounding the fire.’

    The Assistant Vice President of Campus Residences, Dallas W. Bauman III said, ‘Campus Residences will begin repairing the damage as soon as the residents of the room move out to their new locations. No timeline has been established for the completion of the repair.’

    Other than residence halls, the SINC site and H Quad Dining Hall were temporarily shut down. Minimal damage was done to the personal effects in the room, and there were no reported injuries. E0 residents, who were temporarily displaced to the residential fitness center, were allowed inside the building at approximately 3:00 AM.

    According to Bauman, ‘the decision to allow residents back into the building is done jointly with the chief of the fire department and the Environmental Health and Safety.’

    Kaczmarczyk said, ‘It was John Gallo, the Fire Safety Manager, who made the final decision to let students in.’

    Bauman also said that ‘the residents of room [E017] were relocated to new spaces immediately after the fire.’ The residents are currently displaced to other residence halls, including Benedict College and Irving College, in Mendelssohn Quad.

    What is surprising is that some students were not informed about the fire at all.

    ‘Students were not informed. No one told me about it ‘- the RA’s or people on campus,’ said Tamiko Watkins, a Junior from A wing of Benedict College.

    Little said, ‘a fire like this tells us that when fire alarms occur, it is important to leave the building immediately.’

    For emergency situations, students are urged to contact the University Police at 911 or 333 from any campus phone, or 632-3333 using a cell phone, for campus emergencies.

    Lynn Hsieh contributed reporting.

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