Ujamaa evacuated after fire reported in dorm room

Oct. 22, 2018, 1:10 a.m.

Around 6:30 p.m. Sunday night, residents of Ujamaa House in the Lagunita residential complex were evacuated after a fire was reported in a resident’s room.

According to Bec Smith ’20, Palo Alto Fire Department said the fire originated from an electrical wiring issue.

While no one was injured, certain halls flooded after fire sprinklers activated. According to SUDPS spokesperson Bill Larson, the scope of the damage included residents’ belongings, walls and ceilings.

Several residents said the student currently living in the room was not present when the incident occurred. Witnesses reported seeing firefighters throwing clothes out of the window of the room, which is reportedly in the Lower B section of Ujamaa.

At around 8:20 p.m., the A wing of the dorm reopened, but the B wing remained closed as of 10:00 p.m.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s anybody’s fault,”  said resident Jamayka Young ’21, who lives next door to the room in which the fire allegedly took place. “[The resident] didn’t have anything happen because they weren’t there.”

Police from the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) and the Palo Alto Fire Department blocked off entry to the area around Roble Drive and Lomita Drive as well as the entrances to Ujamaa until the situation was confirmed to be safe.

“I saw that smoke was coming from the [affected] room,” said Ruth-Ann Armstrong ’21, another resident who lives near the room. “A [resident assistant] called the police, and it took them about 15 minutes to get here.”

Authorities confirmed that the scope of the damage was limited.

“It’s all done,” said SUDPS officer Victor Lee. “It could’ve been worse, but I think it was isolated to one room.”

However, not all of residents’ worries have been assuaged.

“I’m worried about my laptop, which is open and on my bed, and how I’ll get money from Stanford to pay for this,” said Young, referring to possible damage from the sprinkler system.

“It’s not great,” said Smith. “I have a midterm tomorrow; a lot of people have midterms tomorrow.”

Smith later added that “everyone is coming together in [Ujaama] to provide housing to people in B wing,” with residents from A wing offering places to sleep to those from B wing.

An email sent to the Ujamaa mailing list by RA Gia Page Soles at 11:16 p.m. stated that the Upper B wing of Ujamaa house was clear for access. The email also stated that the air quality was “fine,” and it also notified residents that dehumidifiers would be operating in the Lower B wing.

An email was sent to the same mailing list at 12:51 p.m. on Monday stating that anyone who was affected in the electrical fire was eligible to submit a form for reimbursement for any items that were damaged as a result of the incident.

The Daily has reached out to the Ujamaa RAs and RF for comment.

This report will be updated as more details and perspectives come to light.

This article has been updated to include details about how students can receive reimbursements for damaged property.


Contact Karen Kurosawa at karen16 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Karen is a Desk Editor for the University beat. She is also a member of The Daily's Special Projects team, where she works on initiatives including The Stanford Daily Winter Externship. Contact her at karen16 'at' stanford.edu.

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