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Space Heater Catches Fire at D-Hall

By: Isabel Silverman


If you were wondering why the dining hall (D-Hall) was closed on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at about 1:45 p.m., it was because there was an arcing of an outlet.


The outlet in D-Hall that was the cause of the fire. (Photo by: Isabel Silverman)


An arcing is when electrical wires spark when they get overheated. This one was caused by a space heater plugged into the outlet next to the D-Hall cashier. This space heater was using too much of an electrical load from the outlet, which caused the outlet and heater to melt and burn. The circuit breaker had tripped, cutting off electricity to the outlet during the overload. This outlet has since been replaced. There were no injuries, and the only lasting damage was the burn stain behind the cashier counter.


The on-duty D-Hall cashier alerted Dominic Marino, the Marketing Manager of Purchase College Dining, who was walking by to the fire. Marino, seeing the smoke, alerted Shawn Carvajal, the Resident District Manager of Purchase College Dining. Both made a few phone calls, Marino to facilities and Carvajal to others at the college. After unplugging the space heater, the fire quickly went out on its own. 


“Staff reacted quickly, swiftly. We had our fire extinguisher out here within, like, seconds just in case anything escalated,” Marino said. “The students too, they were curious. So we were just telling them straight-up what happened. Any student would be kind of like, 'Was there just a fire?’ Yeah, it was pretty crazy.”


D-Hall entrance. (Photo via Purchase College Website)


D-Hall was cleared out in reaction, as the fire alarm went off and the area smelled of smoke. “We ask that every student, when they do hear a fire alarm, they get up and leave,” University Police Department (UPD) Chief Dayton Tucker said. “Don’t take it as a joke, don’t think that ‘oh, this happens all the time’. Every time could be a bad time.”


Firefighters from the Purchase Fire Department arrived on the scene to investigate the fire, taking pictures and cleaning up some debris. “I went into my office to make a quick 'we’re closed' sign and I came out and the firefighters were here,” Marino said, “I was like, ‘Wow, that was fast.’” Dispatched for the alarm, UPD showed them where the space heater had been plugged in. Firefighters checked to make sure that there was no extension that would lead to a fire and isolated the power until an electrician could make repairs.


“Space heaters are never recommended to be used within buildings, especially within dormitories and small residential buildings,” Commented 2nd Lieutenant Jason Kaye of the Purchase Fire Department. “A lot of them do not meet United States standards and can cause fires.”


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