La Jolla fire heats up need for better safety measures

The stairwell in which the fire occurred. The open windows help to air out the flood water.

A grease fire broke out at the La Jolla apartment complex Thursday morning, resulting in fire and flood damage to two apartments.

Ten women affected by the damage were relocated to different apartments while repairs are underway.

The fire started after a student heated oil, which caught fire. According to La Jolla residents, it was a quick-acting fire, and not much could be done.

Although the fire department arrived quickly to assess the situation, the damage to the apartment was substantial, according to the Madison Fire Department. The fire started on the stove, burning a hole in the ceiling and destroying a microwave.

The sprinkler systems were activated automatically, flooding two apartments.

Many BYU-Idaho students admit that when fire alarms go off in apartment complexes, they are ignored.

Korth Peterson, of the Madison Fire Department, recommended using a fire extinguisher if one is available.

“If it’s a grease fire, just cover it up,” Peterson said. “If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, just use baking soda.”

Peterson said the safest thing is to try putting out the fire, but if you are unable to extinguish the fire within the first 15 seconds, leave the building.

The fire department advised not to leaving food unattended while cooking.

Tenants at La Jolla affected by the fire advised that if you cannot extinguish the fire, call 911 and evacuate the area, making sure all others in the area or building make their way out as well.

“There was water dripping from our fire alarm, and a seeping bubbly spot in the ceiling and it was dripping through there,” said Emilee Gessell, a resident of the apartment that flooded and a sophomore studying marriage and family studies. “It was pretty nasty.”

Erin Lockhart, a freshman studying special education, said when it came to moving out of their damaged apartment, people helped them move into their new one, which was helpful due to the stress of moving in the middle of the semester.

Gessell emphasized the stress of dealing with the situation while not being in the apartment where the fire took place.

Gessell said at the beginning of each semester, a member of management should go through each apartment and show the tenants where the fire extinguisher is, and more importantly, how to use it.

Gessell said all old stoves should be replaced in apartments to try and limit the amount of cooking incidents that occur.

Lockhart said she thinks apartment complexes in Rexburg should have fire safety meetings because of how often the fire company responds to calls from complexes.

“I think a fire safety course would be amazing, because a lot of people think, ‘Oh yeah, I know what to do,’ but when it happens, you’re in a panic,” said Amy Chandler, a freshman studying child development.

Gessell advises others who might end up in the same situation to be cooperative, calm and do what they are told by professionals.

Here is a link to an interview the BYU-Idaho Radio Station did with the reporter, Myah Riddick.

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