Burning bath towel brings five fire engines

A smoldering bath towel drew five fire engines to Lanman-Wright Hall around 6 p.m. Thursday, shutting down traffic on Elm Street for more than 30 minutes.

The towel — which caught fire after being draped over a floor lamp in a Pierson College freshman counselor’s suite — failed to activate the smoke alarm, but students in the entryway called for help when they smelled something burning.

“We were coming down for dinner and smelled smoke,” Jesi Egan ’11 said. “There was no one in the room, so we called security.”

Fire trucks, police cruisers and an ambulance raced to Old Campus, creating a roadblock at the corner of Elm and High streets.

“Ninety-five percent of the time, it’s a false alarm,” said a police officer at the scene. “But it’s just that one.”

The firemen broke down the door after finding the suite locked. Around 6:30 p.m., they emerged from the suite with their visors raised over their helmets. One firefighter — carrying the smoking towel slung over his ax — left a trail of ash across the Lanman-Wright courtyard as he departed.

The floor lamp, featuring a singed shade, was strewn below the suite’s window in the courtyard.

The fire marshal’s office did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

-Isaac Arnsdorf