July 3, 2020

Transformer explosion temporarily forces students to leave dorms

East Hall residents, many of whom were studying for midterms, were interrupted tonight at around 7:50 p.m. when fire alarms went off.

Around the same time, three Webster Village Apartment (WVA) residences faced power cuts. A transformer box exploded and set a tree near the East Hall residence on fire. 

Student Michael Dahl, a WVA resident, saw the fire happen and was the first to call 911. At 9:04 p.m. he stated:

“I saw it happen from the parking lot, a tree fell, exploded and then everybody got evacuated,” Dahl said. “The fire department’s been here for about 30 minutes and the fire is still there.”

Olivia Ellman was in her friend’s room in the East Hall dorms when she heard a buzzing noise.

“It sounded electronic, then a motorcycle slash alien slash buzzing,” Ellman said. “We forgot about it, but it was weird, very weird. Then, the alarms went off.” 

Ellman said the Resident Assistants (RAs) were responsible for directing students to the WVA parking lot.

“[The RAs] told us as much as they knew, and I feel safe now,” Ellman said.

Over two hours after evacuation, East Hall residents had no information on when they would be able to return to their dorms. Some students took to social media to complain for a lack of communication. 

Webster released the statement below nearly an hour after the fire:

Students will be without power until around 4 a.m. The RAs have been responsible for going door to door communicating with their residents on where they will sleep for the night. According to the Facebook post, an email should be sent to students “shortly.”

At 10:18 p.m., East Hall students who were in the WVA lounge were addressed by the Director of Housing and Residential Life. She stated that East Hall residents were now allowed back in their dorms because the fire department has successfully contained the fire. However, she added that students need to be aware they will be evacuated again if the situation changes.

This is an ongoing situation and will be updated. Webster Journal reached out to Public Safety and the fire department but they did not release statements. The Director of Housing and Residential Life said the Journal could reach out at a later time.

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