Legacy Fire Briefly Disrupts Campus Life


Colin Stevenson

The fire at Legacy Hall left damages in the lounges of Hall B on floors two to four, Jan. 29.

On Friday, Jan. 28, a fire broke out in Legacy Hall’s 4B lounge. The fire was extinguished by the automatic sprinkler systems in the building and all students were evacuated safely. Campus and city police forces reported to the incident, as well as the city fire department. Kristi Schulte, director of residence life and housing, remarked on the rapid response.

“By the time I responded, Wichita Falls Police, university police and Wichita Falls Fire Department [were] already on scene. The sprinkler activated and the fire pressure systems did what they were designed to do. They put the fire out by the time I had arrived,” Schulte said.

The night of the fire was a wild one for Legacy residents according to Kaitlyn Postell, biology freshman. She described the scene leading up to evacuation.

“It started with two girls screaming, ‘everybody get out of their rooms! There’s a fire going on!’ The fire alarm wasn’t happening then. I was thinking somebody was high and messing with me so I come out of my room and was like ‘what’re y’all yelling about?’ …One of the girls had a fire extinguisher and tried to use it and apparently it didn’t work… So I grabbed my things, and when I grabbed my things, the fire alarm finally started going off,” Postell said.

The fire in Legacy started on the fourth floor Hall B lounge, Jan. 28.
The fire in Legacy started on the fourth floor Hall B lounge, Jan. 28. (Colin Stevenson)

Schulte said around 70 students from Legacy Hall were temporarily displaced. However, she was pleased with the turnaround with which students were returned to their rooms.

“It was roughly 11 o’clock and we thought that it was in our best interest to get students to a place where they could sleep for the night, and that would also allow staff to be coming in on a Saturday to do the necessary work that they needed to do with as minimal disruption as possible. We were really happy to be able to have those students back by 4 o’clock on Saturday.” Schulte said.

Damage to dorm rooms in Legacy was minimal. If the fire was more severe, uninsured students could be facing serious financial losses. The residence life handbook heavily recommends that students purchase renter’s insurance.

The third floor Hall B lounge experienced considerable water damage from the fire sprinklers on the fourth floor, Jan. 29.
The third floor Hall B lounge experienced considerable water damage from the fire sprinklers on the fourth floor, Jan. 29. (Colin Stevenson)

“Although steps are taken to maintain all university facilities and ground and to provide adequate security, Midwestern State University is not liable for the loss or damage to personal property caused by acts of nature, fire, water, smoke, utility, or equipment malfunctions, or caused by the conduct of any resident or their guest(s). Therefore, residents are strongly encouraged to carry a personal property or renter’s insurance policy for their belongings while living on campus,” the handbook states.

Schulte also recognized the fire as a wake-up call for residents. She said situations like these are why so much emphasis is placed on fire drills throughout the academic year.

“I think that this is just a really good reminder for our students: why we take fire alarms and fire drills so seriously. As a matter of fact, this week we had already planned. We do fire drills each semester and this week is actually part of our semester-wide fire drills…We do encourage students to understand and to abide by those alarms, evacuate the building, because safety and security [are] so important,” Schulte said. “We’re not doing this because we just think it’s fun to disrupt students for about an hour. We do it because it’s important for students to understand how to evacuate a building, where they should meet at and to be in a position where they have some agency in that situation [and know] how to take care of themselves and others. So, it’s an important thing to remember.”