Residents of the Cowlings and Ilium residential colleges evacuated Building 9 at USC Village Wednesday morning after smoke from a burning fire truck set off fire alarms in the building. The truck was inside Los Angeles Fire Department Station 15, which is adjacent to USC Village, said David Carlisle, assistant chief of the Department of Public Safety.
“There was a fire truck on fire inside Station 15, and the smoke from the fire drifted over to USC Village and triggered a fire alarm, which necessitated the evacuation,” Carlisle said.
Firefighters extinguished the flame shortly after the truck caught fire at 5:29 a.m., the Los Angeles Fire Department said. The cause of the fire is under active investigation, and no injuries were reported.
Some students said they could smell the burning diesel in the building as they evacuated and while they waited outside the building.
“I think it was just the fact that you could smell smoke,” said Justin Fu, a Building 9 resident. “It was like, OK, this might not be a drill. It wasn’t very thick, but you could definitely smell it.”
After it was determined that the building wasn’t in danger, students were let back in, but only after what USC Housing senior associate director Daniel Moran called “an unacceptable delay in the re-entry process” in an email sent to residents Wednesday morning.
Once the building was cleared for entry, some students had to wait 45 minutes or more to get in because they were required to scan their fingerprints before they were let back in. Cowlings and Ilium currently house 714 residents, Moran said in an email to the Daily Trojan.
In an email sent to Building 9 residents Wednesday evening, Moran announced new emergency protocols for building re-entry in response to the evacuation. Instead of scanning their fingerprints, student residents will be able to get back to their rooms by displaying their student IDs to a resident advisor or residential college coordinator. The new protocols will apply to all five USC Village buildings that house students.
“It was cold outside and we were already tired, so everyone just wanted to go back in,” Fu said. “It was annoying to have to wait outside and wait for everyone to scan themselves. I’m glad to see that they actually addressed that.”