A fire broke out in the apartment complex at 20 Hawley Street Friday afternoon.
Students were told that the fire started in an electrical closet on the second floor of the building. Though management described the fire as “minor,” Michelle Edwards, a resident of the second floor who witnessed the fire, said it actually seemed rather large.
“It wasn’t regular little sparks from electrical shortage,” said Edwards, a senior double-majoring in philosophy, politics and law and environmental studies. “It looked like it was vomiting sparks from under the door.”
Eddie Puncar, who was also evacuated from his apartment on the second floor, noted how much smoke filled his hallway.
“It was actually really scary at first,” said Puncar, a junior majoring in economics. “Our hallway was filled with smoke, and we got on our hands and knees to get out of the apartment.”
Puncar, whose room is adjacent to the electrical closet, said he could feel vibrations when the equipment began to malfunction.
“The electrical room is flush against my bedroom wall, so when the transformer overloaded my walls were shaking and my dreamcatcher fell off the wall,” Puncar said.
According to Edwards, fire exits in the building aren’t well-labeled, and she only knew of one way to get off of her floor.
“The electrical room was in front of the stairway so the only way for me to get out of there was to jump over the sparks,” Edwards said. “It was like I was in a video game.”
According to Kyle Seeley, executive assistant to the mayor, around 120 students were moved from the apartment complex to the DoubleTree hotel next door, though Pipe Dream could not reach Hawley management to confirm the number.
20 Hawley Street paid for all the students’ hotel accommodations for two nights, including breakfast and dinner at the hotel, as well as free food at Brewed Awakenings, the café next door. Students were also told that they could make use of the hotel’s pool, hot tub and sauna.
Puncar was pleased with the way the fire was dealt with.
“I think that the Hawley management did a very good job of handling the situation,” he said. “They got us accommodations in a timely fashion and made sure we were taken care of while we were displaced.”
According to Seeley, NYSEG and the City’s Fire and Code Departments have inspected the building, and as of 6 p.m. Monday, the electrical system was repaired and the building could be reoccupied.
Robert Zupo, a resident of 20 Hawley’s second floor and a junior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, didn’t think that the fire would change his opinion of the building.
“Overall I do feel safe in the apartment, but I would just like to be assured that nothing like this can happen again,” he said.
Hawley management could not be reached for comment. One manager, who was available by phone, did not have enough information to comment on the incident.