Fire breaks out at Berkeley College

Isaac Yu, collaborating photographer

At least four fire engines arrived at Elm Street around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in response to a leaf fire in the moat outside the south courtyard of Berkeley College. About five police cars were also at the scene.

According to a 7:13 p.m. email to Berkeley students, college principal David Evans said there were no injuries. A student reported smelling smoke in the dining room, and people emptied the college dining room and suites. Traffic on Elm Street has been blocked from York to College Streets. A section of Elm Street has been blocked off to pedestrians.

Evans wrote that “the smoke from this outdoor fire was drawn into the South Court kitchen, setting off the fire alarm”. He further added: “What is most disturbing for me is to learn that some students were in their rooms and did not hear any alarms. So if the fire had been more serious, we could have faced a more catastrophic situation.

Firefighters who responded to the scene focused on an outdoor area containing dumpsters near Porter Gate, next to the Berkeley Dining Room. Several hoses were connected to the hydrants before being disconnected.

“I’m so scared and worried and my roommate is in her room right now,” said Awuor Onguru ’24, an opinion writer for the News who lives in Berkeley South and is a Berkeley aide. Onguru spoke after evacuating the building.

Holly Sexton ’24, who was in the dining room when the fire alarm sounded, reported smelling smoke. She also said she had heard that the fire was coming from the basement, but was not sure if it was.

Grace Larrabee ’23 said the alarm was not loud enough to be heard in Entrance B and added that she didn’t know something was wrong until she saw a text from a friend 20 minutes later.

The alarm stopped around 6:02 p.m.


Isabelle Qian covers Yale graduate and vocational schools. She is in her second year at Pierson College and is from Seattle, WA.


Philip Mousavizadeh covers Woodbridge Hall, the president’s office. He has covered the Jackson Institute before. He is in his second year at Trumbull College studying ethics, politics and economics.


Isaac Yu writes about Yale faculty and academics. He’s also the production and design editor for the News, and has previously covered transportation and urban planning in New Haven. Originally from Garland, Texas, he is a sophomore at Berkeley College majoring in urban studies.

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