Freshmen recover from dorm fire

by Will Meland | 10/29/99 5:00am

The three freshman whose dorm room was gutted by an accidental fire on Sept. 27 moved back to their Wheeler residence this week after spending almost a month in temporary housing in the Choates residence cluster.

Though Heather Reeves '03, Juliana Sasaki '03 and Sara Hong '03 were not in the room at the time of the fire, much of the room and their personal belongings were destroyed, including all three computers and several pieces of furniture.

In the adjacent room, the students' clothing was damaged by smoke from the fire.

"We haven't gotten all the bills back yet, but [damage] was in the $10,000 range," Woody Eckels, director of residential operations, said. "We had to rewire the room, do a lot of plaster work, quite a bit of woodwork, and rebuild the windows."

In addition, new carpeting was installed, and the sprinklers reset, he said.

Following the fire, the students were forced to wear pajamas around campus and borrow clothes from friends, until the College helped to dry-clean the smoke-damaged clothes, Sasaki said.

"The sprinklers stained some of [the clothes] but it's okay now," she said.

In addition to having their wardrobes de-smoked, the three students had to replace their melted computers, which were in the room that suffered the most damage.

According to Sasaki, College President James Wright even stepped in to help the students after they ran into problems buying new computers from the Kiewit Center. According to Sasaki, Kiewit had told the three women that each Dartmouth student is only permitted to buy one computer per year from them.

"Heather [Reeves] caught President Wright on the street and said, 'We can't get our computers!' We got them very soon after," she said.

The cost of the new computers and damage to other personal items was covered by the residents' homeowner's insurance rather than Dartmouth insurance.

Since the room was under repair for several weeks, Reeves, Sasaki and Hong were relocated to two rooms in the Choates cluster by the Office of Residential Life.

Extra rooms are kept available by the College in case of unforeseeable changes in student needs.

"I usually keep a few single rooms, centrally located on the first floor," Lynn Rosenblum, director of the Office of Residential Life, said. "Or, there are spaces which become available when enrolled students at the last minute aren't coming."

Sasaki said she and her roommates prefer the antique surroundings of Wheeler to their temporary home in the Choates.

"There is even a fireplace in our room, not that we are going to use it," she said.

The fire was labeled an accident by the Hanover Fire Department immediately after the incident.

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