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Fire Watch to Continue at Residence Halls

UCR Responds to Fires at Residence Hall with "Fire Watch" and a Criminal Investigation

One accidental fire and two intentional fires have students on edge

(May 22, 2007)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — An alert UC Riverside student carrying a water bottle noticed a piece of paper on fire and quickly extinguished it about 10 p.m. Monday, May 21 at a UC Riverside residence hall. No students had to evacuate.

Since a fire on May 17th caused by an equipment malfunction in a lounge kitchen, there have now been two small fires intentionally set in other areas of the same building. Both were quickly extinguished.

“These two later incidents require a serious response,” said Vice Chancellor of Administration Al Diaz. “These are malicious acts and police are taking every step possible to find the people responsible.” He said the campus will pursue all legal avenues available to prosecute whoever is responsible.

Community service officers from the UC Police Department as well as residence hall advisors will patrol the halls at night to keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary, said UCR Police Chief Mike Lane.

May 17 — About 840 students were evacuated safely after a report of a fire caused by an equipment malfunction in the Aberdeen-Inverness residence hall, in a lounge kitchen unit of B-3 West that includes a refrigerator, stovetop, microwave and fan. All similar units have been disconnected for the remainder of the school year. All 40 students from that B3 West hall have been relocated to other rooms. Repair and cleaning will begin as quickly as possible. A “fire watch” was begun so that the halls are patrolled every night.

May 21, 3:30 a.m. — Someone lit a cardboard box on fire near a trash bin on E-1 East. It was quickly extinguished by a student with a fire extinguisher. No one was injured. Even though the fire was extinguished, the students patrolling the halls decided to evacuate two halls, which accounts for about 400 students, as a safety precaution. They were allowed back in three hours later.

May 21, 10 p.m. — An alert student happened upon a piece of paper on the wall on fire on B-1 East. She was able to put it out with the bottle of water she was carrying. No evacuation was necessary.

Housing officials are encouraging students to continue to be alert, and to report anything suspicious to administrators and to law enforcement. The UCR Counseling Center has been working with students who are upset. And parent calls have been handled through housing services, and through Jim Sandoval, vice chancellor of student affairs, at His number is (951) 827-4641 and he can be reached at

“I want to offer my appreciation to the housing staff, the police department and the fire marshal for the way they have worked to keep our students safe, even in the midst of these evacuations,” said Sandoval. “I also want to thank the students for their patience.”

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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