The Daily Gamecock

Currell College catches fire

Cigarette ignites leaves, debris in air intake vent of campus building

A fire evacuated Currell College late Tuesday afternoon.

 The fire started when a smoldering cigarette went into an air intake vent on the exterior of the building, according to USC spokesman Wes Hickman.

Shortly after 4:15 p.m., smoke from the cigarette, which had lit some leaves and other debris inside the vent, started circulating through the air ducts in the building and into hallways and classrooms.

Several classes were interrupted by the smoke, and administrators quickly evacuated the building. Firefighters quickly responded; two trucks and at least nine firefighters were on the scene within 20 minutes of the fire.

Eric Sevigny, a criminal justice assistant professor, said he smelled the smoke but never heard an alarm.

"I was in my office and I smelled smoke," Sevigny said. "I came out and saw a student walking around with a fire extinguisher. I didn't hear any alarm, though. Tell them they need to get an alarm system in this thing."

Sevigny did acknowledge that the fire department response was timely and that when he came out of the building, firefighters had already arrived.

Another criminal justice professor, Bob Kaminski, said he looked for a fire alarm to pull and couldn't find one.

Kaminski said a similar fire occurred in Currell "probably four or five years ago."

Samantha Munoz, a first-year elementary education student, and Jeanne Howe, a first-year undeclared student, said they were in a statistics class in the college's auditorium when smoke began to fill the room.

"Someone said they smelled smoke coming out of the vents," Munoz said. "It started coming in, and soon it covered the top of the room."

Howe said the class didn't really know what to do.

"We didn't know what was going on," Howe said. "We all just got out; it was just so unexpected."

They both said they heard no alarm.
Hickman said the fire was quickly extinguished and no damage was caused.