Fire in Bice House temporarily displaces several residents

University Police and Charlottesville Fire units were called to the on-Grounds housing complex early Saturday evening to combat an accidental blaze

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Several emergency response units arrived at Bice House Saturday evening Andrew Walsh | Cavalier Daily

Six residents in Bice House — an on-Grounds upperclass housing complex located off of Brandon Avenue — were notified early Sunday morning that they would be temporarily displaced following a fire at the complex Saturday evening. 

The University Police Department and Charlottesville Fire were called to the complex around 7:46 p.m. Saturday in response to a fire alarm, according to an email statement from University Police Chief Tommye Sutton. Facilities Management, Housing and Residence Life and Facilities Management and Environmental Health and Safety were also called to the scene to assess damage and remove excess water from sprinklers that activated to put out the fire. 

“Upon arrival, officers observed smoke on the fourth floor,” Sutton said. “The building was evacuated.”

The University alert system sent out multiple text messages regarding the incident instructing students to avoid the area, with an all-clear text coming within ten minutes of the original notification. However, residents were not allowed to reenter the building for over six hours after the initial alarm had sounded. 

“Housing and Residence Life made arrangements to accommodate the six residents in the affected room displaced by the fire, and the building was opened for occupancy at approximately 2:45 a.m. on Sunday,” Sutton said. 

Sara Windoloski, a second-year College student and Bice resident, said in an email statement to The Cavalier Daily that she and many other Bice residents waited on the Corner from the time of evacuation until 1:30 a.m, with few ways of receiving regular updates from police and officials. 

“We were out for about six hours and were instructed to keep [our] phones charged for updates, which was hard to do since we did not bring our chargers or computers outside with us,” Windoloski said. 

Bice resident staff kept residents updated throughout the evening via an email chain as more information surfaced. However, Windoloski said she is displeased with the communication and believes the University should have provided more adequate and frequent information to residents.

“I was just dumbfounded by the lack of information that was given to us throughout the situation,” Windoloski said. “It took one of my friend's parents calling the authorities to get specific information on the breadth of the situation and for a time estimate as to how long they thought it would take, which is a bit ridiculous.”

Residents in other areas of the building are permitted to remain in place but were told that the elevators would be out of service for the next two days and that they were only permitted to use the staircase at the front of the building.

Sutton said there were no reported injuries in the fire and that the incident appears to be an accident. Housing and Residence Life has also provided assistance to the six displaced residents, and residents are able to file insurance claims for any damaged property. 

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