An unknown pungent odor led to The Commons building being evacuated early afternoon Monday, Nov. 12.
First-year architecture major Melissa Field said she smelled what she suspected was a gas leak in her common area before the building’s fire alarm went off, “We saw a Campus Safety officer coming down the stairs, and we walked from one end of the building to the other into my room and then the fire alarm went off, and we walked out.”
Keene Fire Captain Jason Martin said that the Keene Fire Department was notified of the problem by Campus Safety.
“We received a masterbox, which is the fire alarm that went off. When we were en route we got an update that [Campus Safety] was actually here and pulled the pull station because they were called for an odor of something on the third floor. We got here, we went up and investigated, we had an odor on the third floor. We went through with our meters, and we had zero readings of anything. That’s [Carbon Monoxide], sewer gas, hydrogen-cyanide, we had no readings whatsoever. So we chose to ventilate the building,” Martin said.
Not every student left immediately after the alarm sounded. First-year architecture major Charles Shepley left the building through the emergency stairwell some time after the building had been evacuated.
“I just woke up from a nap, I had my headphones in, and I looked outside and I saw the firetruck. So I just went down the emergency stairwell… they just told me next time to get out a little sooner,” Shepley said.
Martin said that the Fire Department was unable to determine what had caused the odor but said that the building was safe, “We’ve ruled out that it was anything combustible, nothing like [Carbon Monoxide] or anything hazardous that we would’ve picked up on our readings. Unfortunately we don’t know what it is, it was a pungent smell of some sort. We’ve ventilated it, hasn’t started to come back, so it’s a safe environment.”
Vincent Moore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org