Electrical outlet blamed for Sherman Hall fire

Electrical outlet blamed for Sherman Hall fire

CHAMPAIGN — Officials said on Monday that an electrical outlet caused a fire at a University of Illinois residence hall Sunday night, but they are still not exactly sure why the outlet failed.

No one was injured in the fire at Sherman Hall, 909 S. Fifth St., C, and the blaze had been brought under control by the building's sprinkler system before firefighters arrived. Officials estimate the damage at $10,000.

Champaign Fire Marshal John Koller said it will remain unclear what sparked the outlet.

"They do regular maintenance on them ... according to their staff," Koller said. "I don't know if it was something that had been reported that there was anything wrong with it."

There had been power problems in the lower levels of the building about an hour earlier, he said, but it is also unclear whether those issues were related.

"Looking at the outlet and examining it, it wasn't broken prior to the fire," Koller said.

At 13 stories, Sherman Hall is one of Champaign-Urbana's taller high-rises. Students from the section of the building where the fire occurred were evacuated to its lobby.

Firefighters from Champaign and Urbana were called to the building at 7:36 p.m. Sunday. They used water to make sure it was out while they ventilated and searched the building before declaring the fire extinguished at 7:46 p.m.

The bright side, Koller said, is that students and resident advisers did everything they had been trained to do.

"We do a lot of educational training over there," Koller said. "The RAs, the kids in that building, they did exactly what they were supposed to do. The alarm sounded, the RAs had accountability for the kids in those buildings."

Some students tend to ignore fire alarms, Koller said. Apparently not so at Sherman Hall.

"We did not have a problem with that (Sunday) night," Koller said. "That's refreshing; that's great to see."

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