After Halloween, things starting go back to normal. BeautyQueen moved out, we started sniping at each other about the dishes and everyone fought over the TV. One thing to understand about my dorm building is that it was shaped like a cross. There were a number of entry doors downstairs, but the main ones were in the armpit of the t. My dorm window was almost directly next to this juxaposition, so when I looked outside to my right I could see a wall of windows and balconies.

One night, La Actress and I were working on papers while watching Family Guy (yes, we were incredibly efficient and awesome multitaskers). La Actress turned to me and asked, “Hey, do you hear something?”

“Nope,” I murmured, entranced by Stewie, arguably the best baby on TV.

La Actress sighed and walked over to the window muttering about parties and studying. Almost immediately she turned away from the window and ran to her computer, hastily closing it.

“Get up. GET UP! There’s a fire outside. We have to go, now!” I stared at her for a few seconds. Fire? There was no alarm going off. I glanced out the window and what I saw had me off of my ass immediately. Directly across from our window was another dorm room and their balcony. There were a number of pumpkins strewn around the railings and most of those pumpkins were on fire. Based on how they looked (and confirmed in later reports) some drunk idiot had covered the pumpkins in an accelerant (lighter fluid? alcohol?) and decided to light them on fire. Immediately, I shouted for Kentucky to get her ass out of her room (Smiley was in class) and we all grabbed our computers and ran.

We automatically turned left after leaving our room, running toward the main hallway. Right then, the fire alarms went off (thanks for the warning! Not.) which meant that access to the side of the building with the fire was restricted from our side. Which meant that the door to the main hallway was locked (to prevent further fire damage). After tugging on the door for a few seconds, we retreated to the other end of the hallway, where there is a back staircase. Good thing there was no additional fire behind us, or we could have died of flames/smoke inhalation after being locked into a hallway.

Kentucky used this moment to run to the second floor (we were on the third floor) to see if her friend was home. Those of us interested in survival (La Actress and myself) proceeded to the ground floor. And this is where I prove that no matter how smart you are, in a crisis anyone can say or do stupid stuff.

“Hey don’t trip on the last stair, it’s wet.” La Actress called back to me as she sprinted toward the emergency exit.

“Don’t go out that door, if you set off the alarm they’ll charge us a huge fine!” I said. Seriously. The one thing I remember from orientation is about the fine for using the emergency exit and I chose then to remind her.

After looking at me like I was an idiot, all La Actress said was: “Fire. FIRE.” Then she pushed open the door.

We ran out to the street and were glad we were standing far away from the building. Some of the accelerant had fallen on the floor of the balcony and started mixing with water from the emergency sprinklers. This liquid lit on fire and started streaming out of their balcony water drain. We spent the next ten minutes screaming at people who were running out of the front door to go out the back door because the liquid fire was raining down direcly in front of the main exit, but wasn’t visible until you were practically beneath it.

I guess the police were so used to false alarms, they decided to slowly meander over to the dorms. At first they seemed confused to see so many people outside, but when they finished driving around the building and saw that there was an actual fire, their training kicked in and they started actually doing their jobs.

Amazing how for the first 15 minutes of this fire the alarms either turned on late or weren’t on at all, no security/police/fire fighters appeared and if not for those of us who got out right away and stopped others from running through liquid fire, there could have been injuries. Even after these glaringly obvious issues with fire security, the administration made no changes.

Advertisements