University of South Carolina's Currell College catches Fire - DatelineCarolina

Currell College Evacuated After Debris Caught Fire

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Students walking to and from class outside of Currell College a few's days after the fire occurred. Students walking to and from class outside of Currell College a few's days after the fire occurred.

By: Chelsea Parler

Faculty and students evacuated Currell College on the University of South Carolina's campus on Tuesday January 24 after debris in an outside vent caught fire.

University officials said the fire started when a lit cigarette fell in the vent and ignited the leaves and trash.

The smoke began circulating through the air ducts filling classrooms and hallways.  Several classes were evacuated and firefighters arrived quickly put out the smoldering debris.

Several faculty members, like criminal justice professor Eric Sevgny, said they could smell the smoke but were surprised they didn't hear an alarm.

"Immediately when I exited my office I saw obviously the smoke got a little thicker," Sevigny said. "I saw two students, one was carrying a fire extinguisher."

Sevigny says he he asked them 'Is there a fire?' and they said, 'Well, we're looking for it right now'.

Sevigny assured that everyone was fairly calm during the incident.

"The only way I knew that there was an issue was the smell of smoke, so there was no warning," said Sevigny.

USC's Fire Marshal Todd Griffin said while the building does not have a visible fire alarm system, it does meet safety codes.

"It meets the code until you go in and renovate over fifty percent of the square footage of the building, at that time you're required to bring it up to code," said Griffin.

The university recently approved a $4.5 million deal to install modern alarm systems in several buildings throughout campus.

Currell is not currently on the list to be improved but Griffin hopes the safety issue will be solved and they will continue to move forward in improving the life safety systems in every building on campus.

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