Fire on third floor of Wendell was caused by box left on stove

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A fire was reported in the third-floor kitchen of Wendell Hall in Whitman College at around 1:50 p.m. on Thursday.

The fire alarms went off and students were evacuated, and no injuries have been reported, according to University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua.

This is the second Whitman kitchen to catch fire in less than a month.

The fire was put out by a University housing inspector, who was in the building performing an inspection, Bob Gregory, director of emergency services for the town of Princeton, said. The fire had already been extinguished by the time the Princeton Fire Department arrived at the scene.

“There was minimal damage — just some smoke damage and a couch getting scorched a little bit,” Gregory said.

Gregory explained that the cause of the fire was a box that contained a microwave oven that was left over a kitchen stove. The stove was on and caused the box to start burning.

The box was placed on top of the stove by a University employee, according to an update on the situation on the University’s website. The employee had reportedly been in the process of installing the microwave.

A Wendell resident who was present at the time of the incident said that hallways were filled with smoke and visibility was low. The resident said the smoke was coming from a kitchen.

The kitchen floor and the hallways were covered in debris, according to reporters at the scene.

Debbie Yun ’16, a Wendell resident who was in the building during the incident, explained that the smoke had filled the entire building to the point that the fire department had to bring fans into the hallway and open students’ rooms to let the smoke out.

“The fire department came by, and they were just complaining about how the idiot burned the box on the stove,” she said.

Yun further explained that there were only a few residents in the hallway at the time of the incident and that the extinguisher was nearby, so the fire was put out before it escalated.

Yun also said there had been problems with that particular kitchen in the past.

“If there’s ever a fire in Wendell Hall, it’s usually from that kitchen,” she noted.

A fire at a Whitman kitchen was also reported on March 23. The cause of that incident was an overcooked meal.

Yun explained that the earlier fire occurred in the kitchen above them and added that that particular kitchen was smaller and more cramped than the one that caught fire on Thursday.

Yun is a former contributing photographer for The Daily Princetonian.

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