Fire alarms triggered in Gildemeister


Brielle McLearen

“On September 15 at 10:30am, the smoke detectors were set off in Gildemeister Hall. The cause of this incident was due to a student overcooking macaroni and cheese in a microwave at the TRIO offices on the first floor.

Sierra Larson, News Reporter

At 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 15, Winona State University security was alerted to a potential fire at Gildemeister Hall.

According to the director of TRIO, Nhia Yang, the fire alarms went off because a student overcooked macaroni and cheese. The microwave did not catch on fire, but it did smoke, triggering the fire alarms.

The microwave was in the International Student Services side of Gildemeister Hall. Yang commented on the impact of this incident on TRIO’s services.

“No damages in the building, so it won’t affect the services that TRIO provides to its students,” Yang commented.

Chris Cichosz, the director of security at Winona State, said that no students or faculty members were injured and that all were allowed back into the building shortly after the situation had been handled.

Cichosz described how security is made aware of a fire on campus.

“We either get a call from the alarm company, hear the call over the scanner, or get a direct call from a reporting party,” Cichosz said.

Once security is aware of a fire, they call the fire department. Both the fire department and security respond to the scene to see where the fire started and to aid in the evacuation of the building.

Nicole Williams, a professor and department chair of mathematics and statistics, was at Gildemeister during the fire. Williams commented on what students and faculty thought was going on when they evacuated the building.

“I think everybody at that point thought it was a fire drill. Everybody went out and we stood outside really casually,” Williams said.

Williams said they stood outside for 15 to 20 minutes. Once they were allowed back into the building, she thought it smelled like burnt popcorn.

Winona State University Security was made aware of the fire and contacted the fire department. Fire fighters responded to the scene to see where the fire started and to aid in the evacuation of the building. (Brielle McLearen)

Kassandra Zapata, a first-year student at Winona State, was also present during the fire at Gildemeister Hall. Zapata was in statistics class when the fire alarms went off.

Zapata’s class was told to leave their belongings and to exit the building. It was easy for Zapata’s class to exit the building because they were in one of the front classrooms of Gildemeister Hall.

They were outside of the building for about 20 minutes. During this time, everyone in her class was confused and thought that it was just a fire drill.

When Zapata was let back into the building, she noticed two major differences.

“There was this big machine on the ground that was blowing air and it smelled like it was burning inside,” Zapata said.

In the event of another fire, there are a few things that Cichosz recommends. Students should stay calm and leave their belongings in the building, like Zapata and her classmates did. Students should also shut off lights and close doors.

Students should use the stairs to exit the building. If they encounter any smoke, they should be sure to remain low. Finally, if students notice a fire, they should pull the fire alarm or use a fire extinguisher if necessary.

Cichosz also commented on what students can do to prevent this from happening again.

“Take extra precautions when using appliances you may not be familiar with. Do not leave items to cook unsupervised,” Cichosz said.