STARKVILLE, Mississippi (AP) — Mississippi State University officials say repairs are beginning immediately on a women’s dormitory that was damaged by a Sunday night fire that appears to have been started by a candle burning in one of the rooms.
The university said nobody was injured, but more than 150 students stayed elsewhere Sunday night after a fire began around 8 p.m. in one wing of Oak Hall, which opened in 2012.
Local fire officials said the fire on the third story of the four-story building appears to have been caused by a candle burning in one of the rooms, and it was contained by sprinklers. Lit candles are against the rules in MSU dorms.
“We’re actively engaged in doing everything possible to help these students deal with this very stressful event,” President Mark Keenum said in a Sunday statement.
Fourth-floor residents remained in their undamaged rooms after the fire was extinguished.
Only one of the two wings of Oak Hall was affected, and most students will be able to return to their rooms before the weekend, the university said in a news release Monday. About 30 double-occupancy rooms will require more extensive repairs and will remain unavailable to about 60 affected students for about a month, officials estimate.
The dorm suffered water damage from its sprinkler system, in addition to smoke and fire damage. Officials estimate that there’s $150,000 in interior building damage, and that the university could lose $500,000 in student housing payments.
“The fire suppression system engaged in Oak Hall exactly as it was designed to do,” Bill Broyles, MSU interim vice president for student affairs, said in a statement.
Oak Hall’s double rooms hold 382 students.
Broyles said there are enough on-campus beds available to accommodate students who want to remain in dorms. However, he said the bedroom spaces available are in older dorms that have not been recently renovated. Oak Hall is a premium residence hall, he said.
Broyles said affected students also will have the option to end their campus housing contracts early if they want to relocate to an apartment or sorority house.
MSU spokesman Side Salter said 73 students stayed Sunday night at a LaQuinta Inn just north of campus, two in the university’s Butler Guest House and 64 stayed off campus. The LaQuinta has been added a stop on the university shuttle system to transport displaced students.