February 28, 2010 in City

Pre-dawn fire rousts students at WSU

Alarm system fails to give timely alert
By The Spokesman-Review
Associated Press photo

Members of the Pullman Fire Department and Fire District 12 work to extinguish a fire at Washington State University’s Chief Joseph Village apartment building early Saturday in Pullman.
(Full-size photo)

A fire Saturday at a Washington State University apartment complex caused about $500,000 in damage and left more than a dozen students homeless.

Pullman firefighters responded to the 12-unit Chief Joseph Village complex at 2025 N.E. Terre View Drive about 4:46 a.m. Crews found flames coming from at least one unit.

Assisted by Pullman Police officers, firefighters first made sure all student residents were evacuated before extinguishing the blaze.

All student residents escaped without injury, telling officials they were only alerted by other students. Officials said the complex’s alarm system was not activated until six minutes after the first call was made to 911 by cell phone. A resident had to pull the fire alarm to activate the system.

The fire, which appears to have been accidental, started in the kitchen stove area in one of the units, Pullman Fire Investigator Rich Dragoo said.

Two apartment units were destroyed, and others had smoke and water damage, officials said.

WSU officials were on site, including university President Elson S. Floyd, and the WSU housing office was making arrangements for students to be housed in other university facilities. The American Red Cross was also assisting students left without housing, officials said.

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