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Flash fire temporarily shuts down dining commons

October 11, 2010

The Randall Dining Commons at Chapman University. Photo by David Lena, http://www.lenaphoto.com/

A flash fire in a wok in the Randall Dining Commons in Chapman University’s Sandhu Residence Hall and Conference Center caused the brief evacuation of all students and workers in the building on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 10.   The fire began at approximately 3:07 p.m. when the heat was turned on under a wok in the dining hall’s Asian/vegan station, causing what fire officials termed a flash fire when the cooking oil in the wok ignited.  Fire officials said the stove’s hood system sprinklers deployed correctly and immediately.  Two food service workers also assisted in putting out the fire with fire extinguishers.

All student residents and the workers in the building were evacuated at once.  There were no reported injuries.   The evacuation lasted approximately 45 minutes.

Chapman Public Safety officers responded immediately to the fire alarm, and the Orange Fire Department also responded promptly with multiple pieces of equipment.   They found heavy smoke conditions and some water damage from the sprinklers, as well as some fire damage to the wall of the Asian/vegan kitchen area. 

The Orange Fire Department checked for any extension of the fire and found none. 

The Health Department’s Food Division supervisor also responded, after it was clear the fire was out, to check for contamination to food products from fire, smoke or water.  Any contaminated food will be disposed of.  That inspection was still in progress as of this release. 

The fire sprinkler company also responded promptly, sending personnel to reactivate the sprinkler system, as is required after its deployment.

A temporary dining hall was set up in Chapman’s Argyros Forum (the university’s old dining hall), where residence-hall students ate dinner Sunday evening.  Randall Dining Commons was reopened today, Monday, with its regular operating schedule.

Fire officials reported that the cause of the fire was accidental.  There is no estimate yet on the total cost of damages.

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