By Lori Bredemeyer, Copy Editor
Smoke from an emptied fire extinguisher forced the evacuation of Edwards Hall last week and has led to a reward offer for any information relating to the incident
The hall’s smoke alarm went off Jan. 18 at about 4:15 a.m., awakening the residents and director Jason Craddock.
Craddock said the fire panel indicated a possible fire on the third floor of the building, and when he went to investigate, white smoke was filling the hall.
“I went into panic mode and started screaming at the guys to get out,” Craddock said. “It was white smoke so it didn’t look like anybody was burning anything, but since you don’t know, it’s better just to evacuate everyone.”
The hall has had several false alarms this year because of a faulty system, but Craddock said the residents evacuated quickly after realizing it was the “real thing.”
Craddock described the smoke to responding fire fighters, who called for backup-seven fire trucks in all.
Thirty minutes after entering the hall, fire fighters gave the all-clear. The smoke was from a powder fire extinguisher, which the fire fighters said they thought someone had sprayed up and down the hall.
“The extinguisher creates a powder that looked and acted like smoke, and there’s no ventilation in the hall so it just kind of stayed there,” Craddock said. “We were all hoarse the net day because it was abrasive to our lungs.”
Fire fighters found the extinguisher and gave it to the ACU Police Department. Jimmy Ellison, chief of ACU Police, said an investigation is ongoing to find out who was in the area at the time, but there are no leads.
Wayne Barnard, dean of Campus Life, e-mailed Edwards residents Jan. 21, explained the situation and offered a $250 reward for information on the incident.
“What many people view as a funny college prank caused seven fire trucks to come out, and that leaves a serious dent in fire protection for the city,” Ellison said.