Roy Wilkins Hall fire prompts evacuation

Justin Costley

A fire in the room of two Gophers football players at Roy Wilkins Hall forced the evacuation of 130 residents late Tuesday night.
No one was injured as a result of the blaze, which began after 11 p.m. and was quickly contained by Minneapolis firefighters.
According to the police report, the fire started while Gophers football players Antoine Burns and Jason Green were out getting fast food.
“My roommate lit a candle. He didn’t think it would catch on fire,” said Burns, a junior wide receiver. “I went out to get something to eat, and when I came back, I saw everybody was outside. I was just hoping it wasn’t mine, but it was.”
The police report stated a glass container holding a lit candle broke, igniting the table below and spreading through the living room of the apartment.
Firefighters responded immediately to the scene and were able to quickly contain the blaze before it spread to other apartments in the building.
The police report also stated that while fire damage was limited to the living room of the second-floor apartment, smoke damage is evident throughout several rooms on the floor.
Despite the quick containment, Roy Wilkins Hall was evacuated, forcing all residents out of their rooms for nearly an hour.
Lisa Schulte, assistant director of residential life management, said evacuation is standard procedure regardless of the nature or size of the fire.
“We follow our routine,” Schulte said. “Whenever there’s a fire, we always call 911, and we pull the alarm, and the students evacuate.
“As far as I know, it was contained to the one room, and there was no real danger.”
At this time, no definite information is available on the cost of repairs to the damaged apartment or the amount of time Green and Burns will live elsewhere.
Burns said a table in the apartment was most heavily damaged by the fire, but it was not destroyed.
Schulte said she would assume it would take at least two weeks but would not know definitely until the damage could be fully assessed.
The students are both new arrivals at the University. Burns is a wide receiver who transferred from Rochester Community College. Green is a freshman defensive end from New Jersey.
Both are staying elsewhere while the room is being repaired.
— Staff reporter John Carter contributed to this report
Justin Costley covers police and courts and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3224