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Residents evacuate Brough House following ground-floor fire

A fire at a South Green residence hall led students to evacuate the building as smoke filled the ground floor early Friday morning.

Athens Fire Department, Ohio University Police Department and Athens County Emergency Medical Service responded to a report of smoke at Brough House, 126 S. Green Drive, at about 2 a.m. Friday. By 2:08 a.m., Brough residents had gathered under the catwalk of adjacent Cady House while firefighters and police officers entered the building and extinguished the fire.

Students were directed to exit at the first floor via the building’s two stairways. During fire drills, residents exit by way of the ground floor, but smoke made using the catwalk a safer option.

“I came out the catwalk,” said senior communications major Corey Cook, who lives in Brough House. “The smoke was really heavy, (but) it was pretty easy coming out of the catwalk.”

The fire began in Room 006 of the residence hall, Capt. George Klinger of Athens Fire said. He said the smoke was contained to the ground floor.

“The cause is underdetermined right now,” Klinger said.

Firefighters pulled a pumper truck within feet of the east entrance of the building and laid hose to extinguish the fire. After the fire had been put out, the building was ventilated to expel the smoke. 

No injuries were reported at the scene.

Klinger said the building would be safe for students to re-enter.

“They can stay on the upper floors,” he said.

But Residential Housing employees on the scene did not allow students to enter. Many students found temporary housing with friends while others took shelter in nearby Weld House.

Cook decided to stay at the scene to see when he would be allowed to go back to his room.

“I’m just going to wait it out and see what happens,” he said.

Cook has one more day of classes and a week of exams before graduating. His days in OU residence halls would not come to a quiet end.

“I didn’t exactly plan to spend (the last night of classes) like this,” he said.

Atkinson House resident and onlooker David Muzic said the timing of the fire might indicate the residence hall itself caused the fire.

“I think the house is trying to send a message: ‘Get out of here!’”


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