Buckingham kitchen fire alarms students

By Web Master

Buckingham residents awoke at approximately 10 a.m. on Saturday afternoon to confusion and smoke as a Chicago fire fighter’s voice came over the intercom telling Columbia students to stay in their rooms and remain calm. Residents could smell smoke throughout the 59 E. Van Buren St. student-housing complex, but the fire alarm never went off.

Even though the Chicago Fire Department intercom announcement could be heard on each floor urging residents to stay where they were, many confused students evacuated anyway. They went down to the lobby and saw it was packed with fire fighters, and there were four fire trucks waiting outside responding to a small kitchen grease fire that started in room 1104. The damage was primarily in the kitchen and living room area but residents on multiple floors smelled the smoke. It’s still a question as to how the grease fire started.

Stymia Griffin, a resident in room 1104, used the stove to make french fries using grease, but remembered turning off the stove top around 6 p.m. and went to bed shortly. Griffin said she left the pan of grease on the stovetop to cool off.

Another 1104 resident Fallon Glick, said she returned to the apartment on Saturday morning and headed straight to her room, but heard a noise in the kitchen soon after, and came out to find black smoke and the stovetop aflame.

The two roommates left the room to find a fire alarm to pull, but they didn’t see one, so they went downstairs to notify security that their kitchen was on fire.

The security guard suggested that Glick call 911, but she was too frantic to do so. The guard dialed 911 for her and handed Glick the phone to explain the situation.

After the fire fighters doused the flames, Property Manager Laura Maziejka offered for the roommates to relocate to a different room for the time being. Maziejka also offered the basement laundry facilities so they could clean their clothes and bedsheet, which smelled like smoke and were covered in soot.

Residents and fire fighters are still unsure why the alarms didn’t sound, which only caused more confusion. Fourth floor Buckingham Resident Assistant Kelsee Vandervall said she was also surprised she smelled smoke but the alarms weren’t sounded. Vandervall said it may be because the room didn’t get hot enough to set off the sprinklers and alarms.

Lieutenant Tom Maloney said the fire alarm should have sounded because “the kitchen was almost gone.”