Murphy Building up in flames after a fire alarm turns out to actually be for a fire

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Firefighters arrived on campus shortly after 10:45 on Monday, April 24, after a fire in a food’s kitchen triggered smoke alarms in the building. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Taylor)

The Murphy Building is off limits to students for the foreseeable future after a fire caused burn damage to most of the building’s main floor. 

The fire started in a food’s kitchen after a student’s attempt at fried chicken caught flame, starting a grease fire. 

Students and faculty alike were skeptical of the evacuation. Many reported taking the time to reach for their phones, finish their classwork, and use the restroom before leaving the building for the evacuation. 

“I was genuinely surprised to hear the evacuation was for a real fire,” said Sofia Witherspoon, sophomore. “We’ve had so many fire-not-fires that when the alarm went off, it felt less like a requirement to leave and more of a suggestion.”

Witherspoon was on the second floor of the Murphy Building, taking a math test when the alarm sounded. Instead of leaving, she opted to finish her test before choosing to evacuate. 

“I was only a few questions from finishing when the alarm went off. My options were to finish my test then, or come back for lunch, and I don’t want to take a math test during lunch.”

It was only when the floor below her became hot that Witherspoon realized the fire alarm was sounding for a real event. By then, she had finished her exam and was enjoying a nap to the soothing voice of the fire alarm. 

Witherspoon wasn’t the only person startled by the appearance of a genuine fire on Leesville’s campus. Firefighters from Station 23 on Pinecrest Road reported to the scene nonchalantly, wearing unbuttoned uniforms and missing helmets.  

“We expected the fire to be another case of the boy who cried wolf,” said Captain Peterson, a firefighter present at the scene. “When the alarm went off at the station, there wasn’t much of a rush to get to the school. “None of us expected anything until we saw flames and then we were like, holy cow, it is a real fire.” 

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