Students return to Cartmel accommodation after fire

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Photograph: Salman Rukhsar

All but one of the members of the Cartmel flat which experienced a fire on Monday, Week 5, have been returned to their rooms, the University Residence Manager has told SCAN. Cartmel residents were evacuated from the building after a firework was thrown into a student’s bedroom and caught fire.

The firework caused significant fire and smoke damage to the student’s room, who had been sleeping in there at the time of the incident. The student, a first year international, spoke to SCAN shortly after the incident – she stated that she had been sleeping, then jumped out of bed and attempted to put out the fire. After these attempts were unsuccessful she grabbed her duvet and ran out of the room, fortunately physically unharmed. She alerted the other members of her flat who all vacated the building before going next door to phone the porters and the fire brigade. The student told News editor Jack Perry, who was on the scene moments after the incident, that she was concerned as she had left many of her important belonging in the bedroom when fleeing: “My passport, my bank card, my library card… everything that confirms my identity is in my room. It happened so suddenly.” All witnesses said that they did not see anyone outside the flat when they left.

SCAN has now been able to confirm that the fire itself involved fire and smoke damage to the student’s room. While smoke had been witnessed coming out of several ground floor and first floor rooms, the fire was contained within the room the firework had been thrown into. The fire door between the bedroom and the corridor meant the fire did not affect any other aspect of the flat: there was no damage to the corridor, kitchen or other rooms, though there was a strong smell of smoke throughout the flat.

Soon after the incident, all eight students from the affected flat were relocated, many of whom spent the night in friends’ rooms on campus, and were given full free use of the Barker House food court for meals until they were able to return to their original flat.

Candace Davies, the Lancaster University Residence Manager, told SCAN that seven of the eight students were able to return to their accommodation properly in the afternoon of Tuesday, Week 5, after the area had been deodorised and cleaned. Davies said that the remaining room will be ready for re-occupation “very shortly.”

The students from the ground floor flat involved have all been given academic and welfare support since the fire took place, according to Davies. “The academic departments of all eight students were sent an email to advise them of the situation with their particular students. As well as College staff being on hand to provide help, Student Based Services support staff were also alerted in case further support was required.”

Davies was keen to highlight the support that had been given to students and the spirited response of those within the college. “The residents of the whole block where the fire occurred were emailed after the event to thank them for their co-operation at the time and to reassure them that no injury had been caused to fellow students.” It was also recognised that “no major damage had been caused to the building” and all sufficient actions had taken place to ensure the safety of students in the early aftermath of the incident, helping them to return to the building as soon as possible and cause as little disturbance as possible.

It was also made clear by Davies that fire safety advice had been given to students on numerous occasions. “Cartmel student attendance at the Intro Week Safety talks was good and prior to bonfire night the Cartmel College Dean emailed all students to remind them about fire safety particularly during Halloween and bonfire night.” She went further on to say, “students were also reminded by email on 24th October about appropriate use of fire alarms as we have experienced an increase in the number of malicious fire alarm activations across campus at the start of this term.”

“I cannot provide any further information surrounding the incident itself as the police are still involved in investigating this.” Davies said, “I personally would like to commend the swift and calm actions of all the staff and students involved at the time and in the days immediately afterwards.”