UPDATED: Students evacuate South Fork SuitesA grease fire in the kitchen of a lower-level unit in the UW-River Falls South Fork Suites student housing building sounded the fire alarm and prompted a full evacuation just before noon Thursday, Dec. 16. Neither smoke nor flame was visible from outside the building.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
Initial radio traffic indicated the fire was put out but restarted then was doused with an extinguisher. Fire Chief Scott Nelson said the fire was out when the department arrives, but smoke had filled the first-floor hallway and some of the rooms.
Flames damaged a microwave/vent over the stove where the fire started.
Firefighters opened windows and used exhaust fans to clear smoke first from the hallways then the dorm rooms.
Nelson said, “This could have been worse had it not been for the quick action by the person who used the extinguisher to put out the fire.”
He added that the National Fire Administration reports that most fires start in the kitchen, “so be careful when cooking.”
Find online tips for preventing kitchen fires at www.kitchen-fire-safety.com
Students gathered outside in the parking lot while firefighters worked and said they’d heard the toned alarm as well as an automated voice telling them to leave the building and that “this” isn’t a drill. Some said they’d been studying, another had just gotten out of the shower and had wet hair.
One said she’d just come home from work and hoped to get back in the building to eat before she had to return. A few people started their cars and turned on the heat to stay warm while they waited.
The residents believed everyone had gotten out of the building safely.
Responding to the scene were two River Falls fire trucks, a River Falls Police officer and an ambulance. Medics stayed at the scene but did not treat or transport any patients.