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Virginia Tech mock dorm burn highlights fire safety
Last Updated: 04/12/2011

Flames and smoke seen on the Virginia Tech campus Friday were set on purpose, to teach a lesson about fire safety in dorm rooms.

The Oak Flame event brought students and researchers from Virginia Western Community College and Virginia Tech together.  They have been working on the project through the past semester.

The group built two replicas of dorm rooms.  One had a sprinkler system, the other does not.  Both had various items, such as pizza bozes, clothes, posters, and furniture strewn about.

Researchers then timed how fast the fire spread in both rooms.

The clock started, and in less than ten seconds, smoke could be seen from the corner of the dorm rooms.  A few minutes passed, and the room was fully engulfed.

“This just shows students how different items in your dorm room can be dangerous,” said Tolga Durak, organizer of the event.

Students told us it was shocking to see how fast the fire can engulf a room.

“I keep my room pretty neat, but just to see how fast it caught on fire was ridiculous,” said Kristin Berke, student at Virginia Tech.

The fire in the room without a sprinkler fully engulfed the room in less than four minutes, and destroyed pretty much everything inside.  The one with the sprinkler system in it, saved many of the items.

“It started off so small.  And then when it caught the mattress, it just blew up.  It was the whole room.  I really didn’t expect so much smoke.  It was really intense,” said Berke.

“It defintely was so scary to see it happen.  I’ve left my straightener on before, and I feel like just seeing that a curler iron can do so much damage, it is really scary,” another student said.

It’s the reaction that the researchers at both schools hoped to get.

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