A false fire alarm in a UW-Madison dormitory Sunday night resulted in thousands of dollars of damage and the displacement of 29 students.
Sellery Hall, 721 W. Johnson St., was completely evacuated after a basketball, allegedly thrown by a 17-year-old from River Falls, Wisc., knocked off a sprinkler head on the sixth floor in Tower B around 11 p.m. While UW Police and the Madison Fire Department were responding to the call, the fire sprinkler system soaked the hallway, damaging the rooms and personal items of students on the fifth and sixth floors.
UW officials estimate the accident caused about $5,000 worth of damage.
“We’re in the process of drying out the carpet and accessing the full extent of the damage,” said Kevin Helmkamp, Associate Resident Life Director for the Southeast residence halls.
No one was injured in the incident, but the situation called for the removal of the students living on the soaked floors. UW Housing officials helped find alternative housing arrangements for 29 students, most of whom stayed with friends for the night. All of the displaced students moved back in Monday.
“All the students are back in their dorm rooms,” Sgt. Karen Soley of the UW Police Department said. “At this point we haven’t determined if there will be any charges.”
The 17-year-old, whose name was not released, was a guest of one of the building’s residents. He will probably be responsible for replacing the damaged property of the individual residents, Soley said. However, he may or may not be charged for damage to the building.
A ticket will be issued to one sixth-floor resident who failed to evacuate the building after the fire alarm went off.
“A fire alarm requires people to leave the building [by state law],” Helmkamp said.
The boy was discovered in his room after firefighters broke the door down to make sure no one was hurt.