The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Student extinguishes vending machine fire in South Loggia

Graphic by Shabana Gupta.

On Friday, Sept. 17, at around 9:00 p.m., a vending machine caught fire in the loggia outside of Loose Hall on South Campus.

The fire was extinguished by Lewis James `24, a student, with his personal fire extinguisher. James said he found out about the fire through his roommate.

“He called me and was like ‘Lewis!’ And I was like ‘Yeah, what’s up?’ And he’s like, ‘Do you have your fire extinguisher?’ I always have my fire extinguisher,” he said. “I got on my sandals and grabbed my fire extinguisher, and ran down the stairs … and then went to the loggia, and it was all filled with smoke, so I covered my mouth and nose with my shirt and then went up to it.”

James said Campus Safety staff arrived about three to five minutes after he put the fire out and sprayed the machine again before unplugging it.

“It was kind of fun? I would probably do it again. If it was not, like bad,” James said. “Like I enjoyed putting out the fire. I don’t know, maybe that’s a future career. Not actually. But yeah, I liked it. It was thrilling. And also made me feel vindicated about bringing the fire extinguisher … I brought the fire extinguisher to college, and everyone was like ‘That’s so dumb. You’re not gonna need that.’ And I was like ‘I don’t know.’ But there was, so I’m feeling very vindicated.”

Ellie Seehorn `25, a James Hall resident, said the fire created confusion and chaos across campus – especially as separate fire in a microwave in Lazier Hall at the same time set off fire alarms and led to a brief evacuation on East Campus, but not on South Campus.

Adding to the confusion was an incident the next day at around 5:00 p.m., in which fire alarms went off in some South Campus buildings although there was not a fire.

Seehorn said the fire led to concerns about safety for some students.

“If their [East Campus] fire alarms are going off for popcorn, why is ours not going off for an electrical fire in the loggia?” she said.

It was thrilling. And also made me feel vindicated about bringing the fire extinguisher. – Lewis James `24

Seehorn, who was not in her residence hall at the time, said that the confusing situation was compounded by a lack of immediate information about the fire.

“My impression is that it wasn’t a thing people on South [Campus] were aware of, until someone was trying to put it out. That feels strange to me,” Seehorn said.

Seehorn said that fumes from the fire persisted until the day after, including in her dormitory on the third floor of James Hall, which is several buildings away from Loose Hall.

“It was just weird. That didn’t smell like a standard fire. There was definitely something that caught fire that was emitting fumes beyond the smoke. I’ve been fine, but I remain a bit concerned about what we were breathing in,” Seehorn said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *