Early last week, two fires at Boston University caused major evacuations on campus.
On Monday, a small electrical fire forced students and staff to evacuate the BU School of Law building. Then on Tuesday evening, a mattress caught on fire in Rich Hall, leaving the building’s residents to evacuate. Both fires were quickly contained by the Boston Fire Department and BU Police Department, and neither caused any injuries.
These incidents come half a year after Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito officially designated September as Campus Fire Safety Month across the state in an effort to raise awareness of fire risks at colleges and universities.
BUPD Acting Chief Scott Paré said recent fires are not a major concern of his, and that these full building evacuations were due largely to the smoke from the fires and not the fires themselves.
“I think the recent fires are both mutually exclusive,” Paré said. “When we get minor fire alarms most of these are through students leaving something on the stove or burnt food, or stuff like that, and that is what usually causes the fires.”
The fires had different causes, and there is no relationship between the two, Paré said.
“To the best of my knowledge, they’re mutually exclusive,” Paré said. “They’re not related to one another at all.”
He said BUPD makes sure fire safety is a priority on campus from the very start of the school year.
“I think we do a great job with fire safety during orientation and also throughout the year with both staff and with students,” Paré said
BU spokesperson Colin Riley said this incident was not the first of its kind.
“Dorm fires have happened before,” Riley said. “We had a student living on campus who left his jacket in the kitchen next to a heated stove so we do practice these kind of emergencies.”
Riley said students should be cautious at all times and report any emergencies to the BUPD right away.
“We do practice these kind of emergencies consistently, but students still have to be aware,” Riley said. “Safety of our students is always prioritized.”
Several students said they thought the fires were concerning, but probably not part of a larger issue.
Alexander Vardanyan, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he was coming back from the gym when he noticed police cars and fire engines turn toward West Campus. He and the other students in West Campus were asked to wait outside while authorities investigated the issue.
“I can’t be too sure what happened, because I wasn’t there during the fire, but some people didn’t even evacuate, like some people on my floor just stayed in their rooms and no one cared about their safety at all, although I don’t know how serious the fire was,” Vardanyan said. “I think I can’t be too sure if we’re safe or not.”
Harkirat Modi, a freshman in the Questrom School of Business, said she was near Rich Hall when the fire alarms went off.
“I was not affected by the fire and I am not worried, but people really need to be careful,” Modi said. “What happened in there looked like careless behavior.”
Mohammed Uddin, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, said he was walking past the School of Law during the fire, and was able to watch the situation unfold.
“Everything was closed off and there were lots of people. For the most part the authorities reacted well,” Uddin said. “However there were no details provided to the general public which is slightly worrying to me.”
Uddin said he thought the fires happening so close to one another was just a coincidence.
“Both fires seemed like low profile accidents that just so happened to occur in a row,” Uddin said.
Ellie French contributed to the reporting of this article.