A fire outside the southeast window of the Smith Campus Center (SCC) living room at Pomona College brought an early end to the “Gangnam Style” dance and Sigma Tau’s Boot party last Friday.
The dance, put on by the Asian American Mentor Program (AAMP) and held in the Social Room, and the Boot, held in Doms Lounge, were both evacuated. The SCC Mailroom, which lost a window as a result of the fire, was also evacuated. The Coop Fountain, however, remained open.
The fire started around 11 p.m. The cause is still under investigation, said Chris Waugh, Associate Dean of Students and Director of SCC.
“It might have been a passerby, but honestly we have no idea about the cause of the fire,” Waugh said. “The speculation is that somebody was smoking and just flipped their cigarette into the bushes, but other than that no one has had any other information about the cause of the fire.”
Waugh praised the response speed of Campus Safety and the Facilities Department.
“We wanted to make sure first and foremost that it was safe and second that we could clean it up as much as we could for our guests,” he said, referring to the following day’s Founders Day celebration.
Rob Robinson, Assistant Vice President and Director of Facilities and Campus Services, estimated that damages totaled between $8,000 and $10,000.
“The biggest damage was the loss of the plant material in the planter itself and then the replacement of the tempered glass window at the far east side of the SCC living room,” he said. “The major expenses really involved the labor of the people who had to come in to do the clean up, clean down the side of the building and put in the fans to clear out the smoke smell.”
Sumi Maristany PO ’15, one of the organizers of the AAMP dance, expressed frustration at the event’s cancellation.
“[The fire] was unnecessary,” she said. “People should not be so irresponsible because we live in a desert and there is no water.”
Waugh echoed Maristany’s statements, urging those who choose to smoke to be extremely cautious when extinguishing their cigarettes.
Makayla DeJong PO ’16 was walking to the AAMP dance around 11:10 p.m. when she encountered the fire and the evacuated students.
“They had everyone back on the walkway in front of the SCC and Camp Sec was using fire extinguishers to put out the fire,” she said. “There were plumes of smoke coming up from the flames.”
She added, “Everything on the east side of the building had been evacuated. When the window crumbles because of a fire, you know it’s time to go.”