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Library fire alarms leave Ohio State students frustrated, stuck in elevators

Joe Frazier / Lantern reporter

Students and staff were evacuated from William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library Thursday afternoon and later that evening when a fire alarm signaled a problem within the building.

The first evacuation was a result of a broken fan belt in the fifth floor mechanical room of the building, which led to a temperature increase in the sixth floor elevator mechanical room above, triggering the fire alarm.

There was no lasting damage done to any part of the building.

Larry Allen, university libraries communications manager, said the first alarm went off at 12:16 p.m., and the Columbus Division of Fire arrived within three to four minutes.

A second alarm, which occurred at about 5 p.m., forced several people outside for a second time.

During the first alarm, a mechanical problem caused the elevators to shut down, trapping two students inside. For one of the students, this wasn’t a new experience.

Alaina Rickabaugh, a third-year in social work, and Jay Wolf, a first-year in business, were stuck in the same elevator for 25-30 minutes, but said it didn’t take long for the fire department to find them.

“They knew within minutes, and they were speedy about getting us out,” Rickabaugh said, who said she was glad to have a companion while stuck. “At least we weren’t alone.”

This was Wolf’s second time being trapped in an elevator at Ohio State.

“We had 14 people in the Morrill Tower elevator that got stuck (my) first quarter,” he said.

Seeing no smoke or fire, students said they were confused when the alarms started.

Colin Purvis, a fourth-year in international studies, said he was studying when the first evacuation occurred.

“I kind of looked at someone on the balcony thinking, this is just a drill, right? But I’m hearing otherwise,” Purvis said.

Some students found ways to lighten the mood.

“A lot of people have been walking by and we have been thinking of making up stories. We told someone that there were a bunch of snakes,” said Tyler Sahlin, a Campus Grind employee and second-year in material science and engineering.

Some students found it to be an inconvenience, as some students were stuck outside and left personal items inside.

“We’ve been out here for about 20 minutes,” said Tiffany Wojnarowski, a third-year in health sciences. “The alarms went off. The elevator people came.”

The first issue was resolved at 12:52 p.m., and the public was allowed back into the building. The second alarm was resolved around 6 p.m.

Tianna Tolliver, Joseph Frazier and Zach Watson contributed to this story.


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