Phone charger sparks fire in OU’s Couch Tower

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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Students living in Couch Tower at OU had a sleepless night after a fire started in a 10th floor dorm room. It was  from a phone charger plugged into an extension cord.

It happened around 2 a.m. Friday, and many residents thought it was a prank at first.

“I’m getting ready to go to bed, and all of a sudden the alarms start going off,” Charlie Reynolds said.

“Me and my roommate thought it was a joke at first, because the rest kind of had been,” Elizabeth Wright said.

“All of sudden I see videos on everyone’s stories like, ‘Ugh, not again,’ and me and my roommate look out the window and outside is just like a bunch of people,” Alexa Perez said.

That’s when students started to realize something was going on.

“They were knocking on the doors and everyone was like, ‘Get up, you need to evacuate,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, okay,'” Lauren Kennedy said.

The sprinkler system activated after the fire started, soaking some of the rooms. The tower was evacuated. No one was hurt.

“In this case, the fire that started was right next to the bed. There were actually elements of the bed, including the mattress and sheet and coverings, that caught fire, so in this case, the fire sprinkler activating and putting the fire out actually saved the student’s life,” OU Fire Marshal Justin Daniels said.

Students had to find other places to sleep. Some slept in their cars, the storm shelter or at friends’ places.

Professors were asked to provide appropriate accommodations on finals for students who’d been affected.

“I was planning on studying this morning, so I didn’t really get that chance,” Wright said.

“I have a very important final tonight, and I need to pass it, and I’m running on very, very little sleep because of this,” Reynolds said.

“I’m honestly really tired,” Julia Wu said. “I got like an hour-and-a-half of sleep,” Perez added.

The university is working with students to address damage to belongings.

Daniels says it’s a good idea to plug chargers directly into wall outlets rather than an extension cord.

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