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Student critically injured, seven police hurt in dorm fire

An undergraduate was critically burned Monday night and seven MIT policemen were treated for smoke inhalation after a fire broke out at about 9:15pm in her room in Random Hall at 282 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge.

Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams issued the following statement Tuesday:

"A 19-year old MIT sophomore suffered severe burns in a fire in her dormitory room Monday night and is in critical condition in the Massachusetts General Hospital [MGH]. She is better this morning than she was last night. Our prayers are with her and her family.

"When the smoke detectors went off in her single room, a neighboring student called Campus Police and pulled the fire alarm. Other students in the dormitory evacuated the building immediately. The fire safety systems operated efficiently and the fire was confined to her room.

"We are grateful to the MIT Campus Police, the Cambridge Fire Department, the MIT Safety Office, the housemasters and others for their response to this emergency," Dean Williams said.

Seven of MIT's 40 patrolmen were treated and released at MGH and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital for inhaling smoke while putting out the blaze with fire extinguishers and rescuing the student from the smoky room. They were identified as Sean C. Munnelly, who pulled her out of the room; John W. Carr; Clarence A. Henniger; Kevin P. Kirchdorfer; Donald P. Miller; Ronald B. Ward and Joseph S. West.

The building, home to 93 students, was evacuated for several hours. About a dozen students who lived on the fourth floor were allowed to return to their dorm rooms at 2am, house officials said.

Campus Police and the Cambridge Fire Department are investigating the cause of the fire.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 12, 2000.

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