An electrical fire at Christ Church last week has caused significant upheaval,and has left a staircase uninhabitable for two weeks.
Students and staff were forced to evacuate Peckwater Quad at 10.30amlast Thursday when the fire broke out. They were prevented from reentering the building for around an hour, as fire engines attended to the flames.
The damage caused by the electrical fire has left Staircase 2 temporarily uninhabitable, and the 16 students who live in that part of the building have had to be relocated. Eight have been allocated alternative rooms on site, but a contentious decision to rehouse the other students in the Liddell Building on Iffley Road has prompted annoyance from some of the student body.
Christ Church Steward Pauline Linières-Hartley explained how the blaze began, telling Cherwell, “The fire was caused by a faulty ceiling fan in a bathroom. The adjoining shower and some of the electrics were damaged.” She added, “There were students in the building at the time, but all were evacuated safely. Some will be spending two weeks in alternative Christ Church accommodation.”
George Huntley, a Christ Church student who lives on the staircase affected by the fire, stated, “I was just leaving the building as the fire alarm went off, and thankfully everyone else got out quickly too. Five fire engines managed to get to the college pretty quickly.”
He described the state of the building in the aftermath of the fire,saying, “Whilst there was no damage caused to personal possessions there is a lot of soot in my room and a strong smell of smoke. The college has moved us out for what they say is a maximum of two weeks whilst they thoroughly clean rooms and replace burnt bathroom units.
“Fortunately the fire was contained within the bathroom area and did not spread to my room –which was next door – or to anyone else’s rooms.”
Huntley implied that those residents of the staircase who have been relocated to properties outside of college are somewhat resentful of the treatment, saying that the eight students who have been transferred to Iffley Road are there “much to their anger”.
He also remarked, “All 16 of us have been given £50 compensation by the college, which somewhat sweetens the inconvenience of moving all of our belongings having only just unpacked them.”
Caroline Ames, a second year Engineering student who also lives on the staircase in question, told Cherwell that the “Drag Suite”, the nickname used by Christ Church students for one of the shared sets in Peckwater Quad, has suffered a certain degree of damage as a result of the fire, and that the staircase basement, where some old books were apparently being stored, was flooded.
Though the incident has forced her to move out of college temporarily, Ames was optimistic about the situtation.She said, “All of us were relocated to college accommodation and hope to move back to our rooms by the end of the week. The college has also kindly given us some money ascompensation for the disruption.”
A false rumour that a first year student was responsible for the fire, having joked about his past as an arsonist and stated his desire to be “like a mythical beast of Christ Church, causing havoc wherever I go,” has been investigated by Cherwell. No evidence has been uncovered suggesting that the fire was deliberately lit.