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Mohawk Valley

Students displaced after fire at SUNY Oneonta dorm

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Students displaced after fire at SUNY Oneonta dorm
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It's not quite clear how long students will be displaced after a fire on the SUNY Oneonta campus on Wednesday. The dorm where the fire happened remains shut down. Our Melissa Kakareka brings us the latest on how the school and the students are dealing with the situation.

ONEONTA, N.Y. -- When the fire alarm went off in Matteson Hall at SUNY Oneonta Wednesday afternoon, many students thought it was just a normal fire drill.

"The fire alarm went off. We hung out in the room for another five minutes before we decided to leave. We walked right past their door, didn't smell anything didn't hear nothing,"
said SUNY Oneonta senior Brian McAteer.

But they quickly learned that the situation was real.

"It wasn't until five minutes later that everyone is panicking, there's smoke, someone was videotaping it," said SUNY Oneonta junior Eric Pacicca.

"You could see debris from the window. It was smoking. The flames shot up within 10 minutes of the alarm," said SUNY Oneonta junior Dan Bucci.

The fire started in a suite on the third floor. Investigators say it was accidental and caused by the improper use of an electric plug strip.

While no one was injured, there is heavy damage to the fire alarm system, the electrical system and the rest of the building.

"Certainly, the third floor damage is most significant. There does appear to smoke damage on the rest of the floors," said SUNY Oneonta Director of Communications Hal Legg.

School officials have chosen to close the third floor for the rest of the spring semester and those students who lived on the top floor will be relocated to other rooms on campus.

It is unknown how long the other floors of the building will remain closed. The college will pay for displaced students to stay at the Holiday Inn in Oneonta.

School officials say everyone has worked hard to make the best of the situation.

"I'm really proud of how Oneonta, the school and community, has responded. We've received offers of support for many area agencies," said Legg.

Students will likely be escorted back into the building for a short time on Friday to get essential items from their rooms.

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