Linen Fire in Valentine Sparks Quick Response
Issue   |   Wed, 02/05/2014 - 03:03

Amherst Fire Department (AFD) arrived on scene late Monday night in response to to a pulled fire alarm within Valentine Dining Hall after three students noticed smoke coming from within the dining area. While cutting through the Dining Hall on their way back from a mock trial meeting, juniors Dan Kang and Joy Huang and sophomore Sirvet Bayimli immediately smelled smoke and quickly called Amherst Campus Police.

“We thought initially that it was from the leaf blower at the entrance,” said Bayimli of the smoke. “But after walking into the atrium we noticed the dining hall was funny and decided to call the police.”

Huang, who made the call to campus police at 11:59 p.m., was told immediately to pull the box fire alarm located within the building.

“Within minutes of the alarm triggering, police cars began swarming in and blocking off the area as fire trucks followed shortly after,” said Huang.

Although neither AFD nor Amherst College Police could be reached for comment, according to Amherst local Larry Kelley, the editor of local blog Only in the Republic of Amherst — the fire began in a hamper of clean linens and was quickly extinguished.

In all, AFD Engines 1, 2 and 3 (Student Force) responded on site, along with an ambulance, AFD Chief Nelson and two assistant chiefs. Several town and College police officers were also on sight, as were the students forced to evacuate from their rooms in the upper floors of the building.

Although the entire situation lasted approximately an hour and a half, according to Bayimli, students outside were never made explicitly aware of the situation within the building.

“I was surprised that neither campus police nor the fire department gave students anye explanation about the incident,” Bayimli said.

In compliance with Massachusetts State Law, Valentine Dining Hall is equipped with multiple sprinkler systems. However, the heat of Monday night’s fire never reached a temperature high enough to trigger their activation.