Norsworthy basement fire strands students for nearly two hours

A fire truck from Ewing Township parked outside Norsworthy Hall on Monday after responding to a fire in the residence hall's laundry room. (Tom O'Dell / Photo Editor)

A small fire broke out in Norsworthy Hall between 8 and 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 27. Although Campus Police and ResLife declined to comment on the situation, residents said that the fire sprung from a dryer in the sophomore residential hall’s basement laundry room.

Students were evacuated at approximately 8:30 p.m., according to Norsworthy residents, and stood outside while emergency personnel — including firemen in Ewing Township fire trucks — tended to the blaze. They were re-admitted to the building at approximately 10 p.m.

While they waited to be re-admitted, students swapped stories, rumors and conjecture as they tried to determine the source of the fire.

“At 8:15, I walked by and there were a bunch of police cars and stuff, and then at 8:45, I walked back again, because originally I had thought it was a fire drill, and I realized that fire trucks were there,” said Jency Mathew, sophomore biomedical engineering major.

Initially, residents told The Signal, they were told little about what was going on.

Sophomore civil engineering major and Norsworthy resident Max Schisler thought the fire might have originated on the third floor.

“We definitely saw smoke coming out of the top of (the building),” Schisler said.

Word gradually began to spread that the fire had originated in the basement.

Although no CAs spoke on the record, several of the residential advisors were heard telling residents as early as 9:15 p.m. that the fire had come from the laundry room.

Students gathered outside Norsworthy Hall after being evacuated at 8:30 p.m. due to a small laundry room fire. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Editor)

Sophomore technology education major and Norsworthy resident John O’Leary said a “defective” dryer may have caused the fire. O’Leary said he noticed a dryer malfunctioning in the laundry room about a week ago. The dryer heated up clothes but failed to spin — like an “electric fireplace,” O’Leary said. He added that the dryer had not been labeled as defective.

All residents were eventually informed by their CAs that the fire had originated in the laundry room, though they were told little else.

“I don’t think anybody’s communicating very well,” Mathew said.

The last of the fire trucks and emergency personnel pulled away at 9:30 p.m., and Norsworthy was cleared for re-entry around 10 p.m.

Students who had been doing laundry before the alarm went off were instructed by CAs and ResLife personnel to visit the hall office, residents said.

Visit tcnjsignal.net throughout the week for updates on this developing story.