Pillow fight causes dorm room floods

What began as a pillow fight prompted a building evacuation.

Two students accidentally activated the fire alarm and sprinkler system in room 207 of Pralle-Sodaro Hall Nov. 9 at 8:23 p.m. The water flooded two rooms directly below and continued to flow onto a BMW 335i, Scion tC and Subaru Forester parked in the Pralle-Sodaro parking garage.

Spencer Palmer, a freshman undeclared major, lives in the room in which the sprinkler was set off, but was in the library during the pillow fight that caused it.

“I got a phone call that said my room was on fire and to come right over,” Palmer said. “I ran back here. I was kind of in shock. I was not allowed back in the room and was told to wait outside with everybody else.”

Palmer said that once he was finally allowed back in, the room was drenched with water. The two occupants are being temporarily relocated to a room in Morlan Hall, and the Office of Housing and Residence Life is working with them to inventory their damaged property and possibly reimburse them. Palmer was uncertain as to whether charges would be pressed against his roommate for the damages.

Palmer’s roommate Carlos Guardia, who was in the room during the incident, declined to comment. Alex Shumate and a female student, whose name is unknown, were having the pillow fight in the room when the sprinklers were set off.

Dean Crockett, an Orange City firefighter, arrived on scene and attended to the first-floor room, which sustained the most damage. Freshman health sciences major Dillon Hollinger and freshman chemistry major Nico Lapointe share the room.

“We were able to salvage all of the electronics on [Lapointe’s] desk,” Crockett said. “I wasn’t in there first, but they already had everything all covered up by the time I got there.”

Randy Burba, chief of public safety, wrote in an email that the fire department plugged the sprinkler opening until the water could be shut off and the repairs made.

Students who had been in Pralle-Sodaro Hall when the incident occurred waited at the outdoor basketball courts until the sprinklers could be shut off. They were allowed to return to their dorm rooms at approximately 10:42 p.m. An outside contractor has been cleaning the damage since Wednesday.

Victor Trejo, the manager of the restoration team, said that the electrical wiring was damaged in the incident.

“Four units [were] completely damaged, as far as drywall, insulation, carpet and contents,” he said.

Trejo said that the first floor rooms were in the worst condition because the water saturated the drywall and structuring. It will take an estimated two weeks for the rooms to be repaired, he said.

Deborah Miller, director of housing and residence life, wrote in an email that representatives of her office assisted residents by removing their personal items, reimbursing for laundry and temporarily relocating their housing assignment.

Chief Burba said that an incident report will be forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct.

Lapointe was in Los Angeles during the incident and drove back after he received a text message from his roommate about the incident.

“I told [Shumate] that it wasn’t really a big deal and it wasn’t his fault or anything,” he said. “Accidents happen. There really isn’t any point in getting mad about it.”

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