A fire tore through an off-campus apartment on Lynwood Place last Monday morning, leaving six Morse College students who lived on the third and fourth floors of the building without homes.
About 5:50 a.m., David Lieberman ’03 awoke to the smell of smoke in his room at the corner of Lynwood Place and Elm Street. Lieberman said he immediately looked outside his window and saw an old man at his neighbors’ building standing on the porch ringing the doorbell.
“I woke up to a small, meek voice saying ‘Help me!'” he said.
Lieberman said he first believed the plea was a prank, but after smelling fumes he immediately went downstairs to call out to his friends who resided in the burning house.
Lieberman said he observed red flames flickering out of the third floor window. He knew that his friends, all female students in Morse, would be trapped in the building if he did not take action.
“You couldn’t go in because the fire was at the front door, so I threw pebbles at their windows,” he said.
The building, 37 and 39 Lynwood Pl., was occupied mostly by Yale undergraduates, with one Yale Law School student and one Yale medical school student living on the second floor.
Nina Fletcher ’02, one of the Yale undergraduates who resided on the third floor of 39 Lynwood Pl., said she was awakened not by smoke alarms but rather by the sound of Lieberman screaming.
“We were all asleep — I woke up in my room because I heard someone shouting. I yelled to my roommate, ‘What’s going on?'” Fletcher said.
As smoke filled her bedroom, Fletcher said she peered out her window to see if she and her fellow tenants could get out of the building using the fire escape.
But she noticed smoke rising from the first and second floor windows, covering the fire escape.
From the vantage point down below, Lieberman was able to call out to Fletcher and her roommates to crawl out through a hole in the fire escape.
“We couldn’t see it because there was so much smoke,” Fletcher said.
With Lieberman’s help, all six Yale undergraduates living in the building were able to escape.
Four of the displaced students are now living in the Morse tower and the Morse master’s guest suites while they search for new homes, Fletcher said. The other two have already moved into a new apartment.
Fletcher said the two graduate students living on the second floor were in Boston at the time of the fire, which was fortunate because the second floor would have been the most difficult area from which to escape the flames.
Fletcher said she thought the fire had been started by the first-floor occupant, who may have been smoking in his bed, and that police were investigating the situation, including the cause of the fire and why the smoke alarms in the building failed to sound.