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Fire Smokes Out WPU Dorm After Move-In

Firefighter examined for elevated carbon monoxide levels in blood, fire chief said.

A dorm was evacuated for several hours Saturday night after a storm caused electrical problems that sparked a fire in the utility room of Century Hall, fire and university officials said.

The storm also knocked out power on campus, took down a power line by Pompton Road and filled part of a gymnasium building with smoke when the motor for an AC unit to the building burnt out, officials said.

Wayne and Haledon firefighters responded to the school around 6 p.m. Saturday after university police reported visible flames and smoke in the basement of Century Hall, Pompton Falls Fire Chief James Petrecca said.

Petrecca said the hall, which houses some 288 freshman through senior students, at least some of whom moved in that day, was evacuated because of smoke. A Haledon firefighter was taken to St. Joseph's Wayne Hospital as a precaution because elevated carbon monoxide levels were detected in his blood, he said.

Haledon firefighters already were on campus for the downed wire, and arrived at Century Hall first and extinguished the blaze, Petrecca said.

Firefighters searched the dorm and no injuries were reported. The fire department ran fans to clear out a smoky, electrical odor, Petrecca said. The university reported only "minor damage."

Assistant Fire Chief David Citer said around the same time as the Century Hall fire a university gymnasium filled with smoke because of the burnt air conditioning motor, but no one was in the building at the time.

Stephen Bolyai, vice president for Administration and Finance, said in a message posted on the university website Sunday that PSE&G restored power and Monday classes were on normal schedules.

He said the fire "was quickly extinguished last night with no injuries and minor damage."

"As a precaution, we temporarily relocated students from Century Hall to the Rec Center last night," he said. "The students returned to the residence hall rooms at approximately 10 p.m.

"I would like to thank the students for their understanding and cooperation. Thank you also to the many staff members who worked to ensure that all students were safe and sound at all times."

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