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Yasmine Akki / Senior Staff Photographer

The fire was contained shortly before midnight on Wednesday.

A fire broke out on the third floor of Ruggles Hall shortly after 11 p.m. on Wednesday night, charring walls and spewing smoke onto 114th Street.

The fire and its ensuing cleanup left Ruggles residents out of their dorm for over five hours. It wasn’t until 4:27 a.m. on Thursday that Associate Director of Residential Life Scott Helfrich alerted residents via email that they could re-enter their dorms.

“Despite the damage thankfully no one was hurt,” Helfrich wrote in the email.

The fire was caused by clothing left draped over an electrical Halogen lamp, according to an investigation by FDNY Fire Marshals that a University spokesperson relayed to Spectator thursday.

Helfrich added in his email that some light fixtures in rooms on the second floor were damaged in the fire and that FDNY first responders broke numerous locks on the fourth floor. Facilities is working to repair both cases, Helfrich wrote.

In the hour that followed the first signs of the fire, six fire trucks were parked in front of Ruggles. Firefighters were seen climbing a ladder to the third floor, where they smashed through several windowpanes as a crowd of residents looked on. NYPD and Public Safety officials were also on the scene.

“I was one of the last people to leave and as I was coming down the stairs, the entire floor was covered in black water and smoke,” Ruggles resident Kayla Kim, CC ’18, said.

Avik Laha, CC ’19, lives across the hall from the third-floor suite where the fire started and said he saw smoke as he left the building.

“The room in the middle of that suite was filled with smoke; you could see red flickering in the back,” Laha said. “You could see it was charred on the ceiling.”

Check back for updates.

news@columbiaspectator.com | @columbiaspec

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