Room flooded in McLean

Jessica Sasseen

At 12:15 a.m. Thursday, a fire alarm sounded. The shrieking noise pierced the night, and a crowd began to flow out of McLean Hall.

Inside, fire fighters found no blazing inferno, not even a trace of smoke. Instead, they found water, a soggy carpet and a drenched dorm room on the first floor.

The water came from a sprinkler head in the room. According to a report issued by campus police, it is unknown what caused the sprinkler to go off.

Hall Director Drew Wollin said the situation is still under investigation by Housing and Residence Life.

Water did reach the lobby, but because of the tile floors, no damage was done, Wollin said.

“Water damage was kept to a minimal because the water flowed into the hallway, where it was supposed to flow,” he said.

When the building was renovated two years ago, it was designed for water to flow into the hallway in the event the sprinklers discharged.

“Luckily it was on the first floor,” Facilities Management Director Doug Ault said. “But there was quite a bit of water in the one room where the sprinkler was.”

Wollin said the sprinkler triggered the fire alarm, and the building was evacuated according to standard procedure.

Students were not allowed back into McLean for about two hours due to the flooding, Wollin said. Although the water was limited to the first floor, he said the crews wanted to make sure there was no possibility of electrical damage or risk.

“Also, we did a good chunk of the clean up process during that time, like sucking up the water off the floor and getting rid of most of the water for students’ safety,” Wollin said.

He said many of the stranded residents chose to stay outside for the two hours McLean was closed, though the lobby of Florence Schneider was opened to accommodate them.

Dawson Springs freshman Kara Hillerich said she and her roommate were doing homework in their first floor room when the alarm went off. She said she thought it was a drill until she saw her resident assistant in the hall, soaking wet.

“We were surprised (the alarm) just went off in his room. We were afraid it would go off in our room, too, but it didn’t,” Hillerich said. “I thought the university did a good job of getting us back in the building. It was pretty quick considering all the water they had to clean up.”

Reach Jessica Sasseen at [email protected]