A kitchen fire startled residents of The Rise at Northgate Wednesday evening. However, when residents of the high rise were notified to evacuate, many said at first, they thought it was just a joke.
"We didn't know if it was for real," said Tyler Williams, a freshman at Texas A&M who lives on the seventh floor, just doors down from where the fire originated. However, he and his roommate Connor Beardmore, also a freshman said they quickly realized it was no laughing matter.
"There was a white smoke cloud in the hallway, we looked down at the end and there was a huge puddle coming out of the room," said Beardmore.
Evidently, Williams and Beardmore weren't the only ones who thought the fire was a prank; the same train of thought also graced the minds of those working out at the complex.
"One of my roommates, she was in the gym and thought it was a joke," said Nicole Copeland, who lives on the 14th floor of The Rise at Northgate. "Apparently, everyone kept working out for another 15 minutes until she called me and was like, 'where are you?"
Copeland said although the fire was a bit of a scare, she's thankful everything was well organized.
"It was actually a lot smoother than I thought it would be; there was no trampling each other," said Copeland.
Bart Humphreys, Spokesman for the College Station Fire Department said the organization and calmness was a result, in part, from the resident's willingness to cooperate.
"When the people do evacuate, it really lessens the problem of life safety that we may have when we respond to something like this," said Humphreys.
Humphreys said they also came well prepared, as the potential risks naturally increase when approaching such a tall structure. Humphreys said a conventional ladder from a fire truck won't reach past the fifth or sixth floor. He said the sprinkler system operated exactly the way it was designed, which put the fire out before first responders arrived.
"All things considered it was a very, very smooth operation," said Humphreys.
Copeland said she noticed some flooding and potential water damage on the seventh floor. Management could not confirm specifics of the damage. While management declined to go on camera, they did tell us they are in the process of sending out educational pamphlets to residents regarding fire safety.
Humphreys encourages everyone to have an evacuation plan and to know where the closest stairwell is located. Since the elevator is hooked into the alarm system, they automatically become inoperable during a fire. This is one of the main reasons fire officials encourage residents to take the stairs during an emergency situation. Once you get to the first floor, fire officials emphasized the significance of exiting the building immediately.
If you're staying at a high rise hotel, Humphreys said it's a good idea to consider reserving a room on one of the lower levels, as a fire truck will be able to rescue you with the ladder, versus reaching your room through the stairwell.
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