A supposed fire at Castleton University’s Huden Dining Hall turned out to be a false alarm after the Castleton Volunteer Fire Department and Public Safety teams were called this morning at approximately 10:20 a.m. to address the issue.
“It was not a fire, it was a leak in the steam pipe. People saw (what they thought was) smoke and called the fire department,” Public Safety Director Keith Molinari said. “Huden was up and open within a half hour, or maybe even less, of the call.”
Castleton Fire Chief Heath Goyette said a call was made by Public Safety alerting the team of the smoke alarms sounding and the smoke, or rather steam, rising above Huden.
“We get so many false alarms (at the university) with malfunctions or somebody burning food in the dorms or whatever. Usually, we send one truck and they take care of it, but we’ve always told everybody that if you see actual smoke or fire or whatever, pick up the phone and dial 911 or call us direct,” Goyette said.
Castleton Dining General Manager Rob Macfarlane, who was in a meeting in the building when the alarms sounded, said the steam set off the alarms three separate times before Goyette and his team arrived at the scene. Luckily, he added, the event happened in between meals so it was relatively easy to get students out of the building — albeit some tried to take their plates with them.
“Steam sometimes has been known to set the (smoke alarms) off in Huden,” Macfarlane said. “We had a steam issue a couple of weeks ago downstairs in the basement. So, I assumed it was probably the steam. But I didn’t take the time to look because we have set protocols (for fires).”
Macfarlane said that plumbing contractors will be addressing the leak early in the morning on Sept. 14 so they can shut off the hot water without it impacting food service.
An anonymous source at the Poultney Fire Department said their team, along with the Fair Haven’s fire department, were called to help address the issue, but were cancelled once the leak was discovered.
“We respond to (CU) quite a bit and, hopefully, we never have the real thing there. But with students, it’s really important when they hear the alarm to get out of the building and stay out until they’re told they can come back in,” Goyette said.
If you are a student interested in joining the Castleton Volunteer Fire Department, there are five position currently available with the team. Anyone interested is invited to visit their weekly meetings, Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at the Fire Station.