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Fire at UWM Sandburg Residence Hall forces thousands of students to evacuate

Posted at 8:40 AM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-18 17:26:02-05

MILWAUKEE -- Thousands of students living at the Sandburg Residence Hall had to evacuate their dorm rooms on Sunday night because of a fire.

It happened just before 11 p.m.

All four dorm towers, which house nearly 3,000 students, were forced to evacuate. Students said there was a strong smell of smoke in the building.

"It seemed like a mass panic -- like the RA's were rushing everybody out, everybody was panicking, but as soon as we got outside everyone seemed more like relaxed," said David Perret, who lived in the dorm.

Students were sent to the Klotche Center and the Golda Maier Library while fire crews investigated. The Milwaukee Fire Departments tell TODAY'S TMJ4 the fire was extinguished quickly.

No injuries were reported.

UWM Chief of Police Joe Lemire sent TODAY'S TMJ4 the following statement on the incident:

The UWM Police Department learned of a fire/smoke alarm at the Sandburg Hall residence hall around 10:30 p.m. Sunday. The Milwaukee Fire Department was notified and dispatched while students were evacuated to nearby buildings. MFD was on scene and had the fire under control in about 20 minutes. The fire was in a maintenance area near a Sandburg Hall loading dock, and it's believed to have started near a floor cleaning machine that was stored in a closed room. Investigation into the fire and damage assessment is continuing, and no foul play is suspected. No injuries were reported, and students were able to return to the residence hall within two hours.