Cigarette sets off fire alarm in Cathedral

By Lindsay Carroll

Students evacuated the Cathedral of Learning last night after a cigarette butt smoldering in… Students evacuated the Cathedral of Learning last night after a cigarette butt smoldering in a trash can caused a lot of smoke.

Captain Jim Talak, acting battalion fire chief for the city, said someone pulled the fire alarm after seeing the smoke, which came from a trash can on the ground floor.

Junior Mickey Szlachta said he was in class on the second floor of the Cathedral when the fire alarm went off and a loudspeaker announcement instructed people to evacuate the building. He said the alarm sounded between 6:05 and 6:10 p.m.

By about 15 minutes after the evacuation, students had heard it was a trash can fire. Some students said they smelled burning plastic while exiting the building, whereas others said the smoke smelled more like burning leaves or a campfire. Some students also saw smoke in the stairwells as they left.

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The evacuation displaced hundreds of students in the Cathedral. Some professors conducted class outside, forming circles scattered across the lawn.

The Cathedral reopened within an hour.