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Joshua DeJong

Mathes Hall residents were evacuated from their dorm rooms after fire alarms were set off when a valve failure caused water to flood down the street near the bike storage, Western’s director of Communications Paul Cocke said.

At 1:04 a.m., Monday Jan. 9, the alarm automatically tripped when an auxiliary drain valve broke. There was no damage to resident housing areas.

A second alarm sounded briefly at 3:10 a.m. as the fire system was being cleared, Cocke said.

Both University Police and the Bellingham Fire Department responded to the emergency, Cocke said.

“I thought it was flooding because I could see water going down, but I wasn’t actually sure what had happened. We didn’t really get an explanation, they just said ‘OK, go get back in bed.’”

Spencer Mills

Sophomore Rachel Hay was in the building as it was being evacuated.

“The stairs were really busy, and there wasn’t a lot of order, we were all just filing down,” Hay said. “If it were a serious emergency, I don’t know if it would have been a good situation.”

Students living in Mathes were left wondering what happened because no explanation was provided at the time.

“I thought it was flooding because I could see water going down, but I wasn’t actually sure what had happened. We didn’t really get an explanation, they just said ‘OK, go get back in bed,” sophomore Spencer Mills said.

With the flooding being outside, the cost of damages is likely to be low, Cocke said.

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A rendering of the flood in Mathes Hall. // Illustration by Darby Womack

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