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Community News: South

USC : 3 Students Hurt as Fire Hits Dormitory

November 27, 1994| Associated Press

A fire apparently started by a candle damaged a dormitory and caused minor injuries to three students early Wednesday at USC, authorities said.

Fire broke out in the eight-story Birnkrant Residence Hall shortly after dawn. Firefighters evacuated the hall, where about 150 students were staying during the Thanksgiving break, said campus police Lt. David Ritch.

Flames enveloped one dorm room and spread down a hall.

Paramedics treated three students for smoke inhalation, and one was taken to California Medical Center with minor burns to her upper body, Ritch said.

The blaze was extinguished in about 10 minutes, said Assistant Fire Chief Tony Ennis. Damage was estimated at $200,000 to $350,000.

The fire's cause was under investigation, but Ritch said the unidentified student who was sent to the hospital told investigators the fire was sparked by a candle in her second-floor room.

The student told investigators she tried to put out the fire with a pillow, but flames spread into the hall when she went to activate an alarm.

Ennis said the flames spread about 100 feet down the hallway.

"Some of the students were telling us that the fire was moving about as fast as you can walk down the hall," Ritch said.

Tyler Lees, a freshman shivering outside the dorm in a cowboy hat, T-shirt and shorts, said at first he thought the alarm was a drill.

"Right when I opened the door, there was a lot of smoke. It smelled," said Lees, who lives on the fifth floor. "We almost couldn't get downstairs. The smoke kind of burned your lungs."

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