Steam burst forces Temple Towers residents to sleep in Student Center

Students were told to leave early Saturday after steam caused a power outage.

Close to 250 residents of Temple Towers were forced to sleep overnight in the Student Center early Saturday morning after a pipe burst in a mechanical area of the building, releasing large amounts of steam, which shorted out the electrical system.

Acting Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said the entire building was evacuated shortly after 1 a.m. on Saturday when the power in the building failed due to the steam burst. Residents of the hall reported seeing steam in the first floor hallways. Leone said there was no actual fire in the building.

“I wasn’t too worried, I was just a little aggravated about the fact that they didn’t tell us anything,” Derrick Matthews, a sophomore civil engineering major and Temple Towers occupant, said.  “We all kind of speculated what happened, but they really didn’t provide any kind of information. I understand that they also really didn’t know what was happening, but at the same time they could have given us hourly updates about what they were doing.”

Matthews said the power went off about 12:30 a.m., followed by the sound of a small explosion.

Sophomore strategic communications major Stephanie Craft said she was sleeping in her room because she had work the next morning when the fire alarm went off around 12:45 a.m.

“I was scared, confused, sleepy and mad,” Craft said.

Craft and other Towers residents were forced to go outside in the rain after the alarm first went off, but said they were later allowed to gather in the lobby where they reported being told to go to the Student Center or find other accomodations.

“My friends and I found a kind of dark, kind of quiet place to sleep,” said Kelly Steckler, a junior anthropology major, adding that she got very little sleep.

Both Steckler and Craft said they slept on chairs they pushed together to form make-shift beds.

“They just kind of told us to go to the Student Center and they didn’t really make sure we were all there,” Matthews said.  “I personally was not able to sleep, but I saw others who were sleeping on the floors of the Student Center.”

Residents of Towers who attempted to spend the night in 1300 Residence Hall reported that they were told not to stay there due to the possibility of evacuation as a result of the power outage.

Leone said CSS monitored the possible effects of the Towers steam burst and power outage at nearby 1300, but determined there was not an issue.

The all-clear was issued around 6 a.m., and crews were in the building that  afternoon to fix electrical equipment.

“I never thought I would ever have to sleep in the SAC,” Craft said. “But I guess it makes for a good story in the long run.”

Around 3 a.m., the fire alarm went off in 1940 Residence Hall, although Leone said that incident did not appear to be related. It was not immediately clear as to the reason for that alarm.

John Moritz and Dominique Johnson can be reached at 

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