Campus Life

Two students save Lamppost from going up in flames

Two students saved Lamppost dorm from burning on Saturday, March 31, 2012. Lady Lancer Basketball teammates Danielle Boykin and Hayley Cashier worked as a team to put out the flames of a grease fire in the apartment down the hall from their own.  Both had prior training in putting out fires, and used a nearby fire extinguisher to contain the fire until the Winona Lake Fire Department arrived.  Only one student suffered minor burns and everyone else escaped unharmed.

Assistant Resident Director Lyndsay Hayes lives at Lamppost and had just returned to the dorm after a spring retreat with Resident Assistant staff. Realizing that the alarm was not a drill, Hayes was on the scene to call 911 for help, as well as Resident Director Peter Wolff, who was on call that weekend.   “Peter, we have a legit fire in a Post apartment. Fire trucks are coming. Two of my girls are trying to put it out,” Hayes said as she recounted what she told Wolff over the phone.

Having heard the fire alarm go off on that Saturday evening, Cashier and Boykin had checked outside to see if the alarm was a drill. But upon seeing smoke at the end of the hall and fellow resident’s asking for help, they responded quickly. “Instinct just took over,” Cashier said. “[We] went in to only see lots of smoke and a fire in the sink. I knew the fire extinguisher was right outside of the door so I went for it.”

Cashier had received training in using a fire extinguisher while working at a Michigan Parks department. Boykin had received CERT training during her time at Grace, and both she and Cashier used their training efficiently. Using the buddy system to enter the room that was thick with smoke, Boykin pulled out the pin the fire extinguisher and Cashier sprayed the flames.  After leaving the smoke filled apartment for ventilation, the two entered once more to spray the fire.  “By this time we thought it was under enough control and could hear the fire truck so we ran outside,” Cashier said.

Wolff was just down the road and arrived in a few moments, along with Campus Safety, the Winona Lake Police and Fire Departments, Followed by Resident Director Dan McNamara.  McNamara, Resident Director of apartment style housing, was able to approach the scene after the fire had been put out, and was able to speak with Fire Department officials concerning the work of Boykin and Cashier.

“I spoke with the Fire Department officials and they specifically informed me that whoever put the fire out with the fire extinguisher essentially saved the building from burning down. Boykin and Cashier were able to put the fire out before the fire reached the wooden trusses in the ceiling.  I found out from one of the firemen that had the fire reached the trusses, it would have been hard to contain the fire.”

Hayes and Wolff were told by the WLFD that had the two girls not acted quickly, “the flames would have quickly traveled up through the vent system, into the attic, and across the roof, catching the entire thing on fire in a matter of minutes. The firemen would not have arrived in time to prevent that from happening and would have spent hours trying to contain the roof fire.”

Wolff emphasized the importance of taking fire drills seriously.  “I know people don’t always take the rules/policies we have regarding fire safety seriously but I hope this serves as a reminder that we have those policies in place for a reason, Wolff said.”

Story by Katelyn Mithoefer | Staff Writer |
Photography by Cassie Gareiss | Photography Editor |