It is 4 in the morning currently and I am sitting on the ping pong table in the Griffiths main lounge as I write this. The Red Cross volunteers have just finished setting up army cots for the 25 residents who are still here. Gray blankets have been handed out and the lights are out. People are still complaining about their 8 am classes.
Around 12:30 tonight, I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom when my fourth floor residents told me there was smoke coming out of the trash chute. I opened the chute and saw that the entire thing was filled with smoke and automatically assumed someone had thrown something burning down the trash. I checked the third and fifth floors and those hallways too were filling with smoke. Jane was on duty tonight so she called UCPD. I started telling my fourth floor to prepare for evacuation as the smoke got thicker. Only a few seconds later, the fire alarm went off. Many residents were taking showers when the fire alarm went off and rushed into their rooms to put on clothes. I then went down to 3rd floor to get the residents out of the building. On the run through the 2nd and 1st floors, I ran into residents on the 2nd floor who were acting like this was a drill and were just hanging out in the hall. We all walked to the emergency evacuation area.
Flash forward to 1 in the morning when an organized chaos ensued. With 250 displaced residents all crowded in the Ehrman main lounge, we RAs knew they’d have to find someplace to sleep tonight. Most of them called friends and left the building but others were stuck here with nothing but the pajamas on their backs. After many meetings with and updates from the fire department, the RD on Duty, and other hall staff who selflessly came to help, we learned that there was a fire in the trash chute and it had been put out. However, we weren’t allowed back in because of the smoke. We had to wait for an engineer to get here from Antioch. Then the sprinklers would need to be refilled. Then the clean up, which is being done as I write this right now.
I told my new spring admit residents, “Welcome to Berkeley!”
It is now 4:15 and one of my residents got her phone stuck in the folds of the lounge couch. Only 5 hours until my first class of Spring 2014.
After countless bathroom let-ins and last minute freak outs, it is finally quiet in the lounge. Most people have drifted off to sleep. 4 people are still trying to get the phone out of the couch. Also, I think I left the light on in my room.
4:30 and we’ve been given the okay to go back in. Yay! I’m headed straight for bed. Good night!
Update at 5 am: The ground floor lobby and suite was flooded from the fire sprinklers that went off. What a way to start off the semester.