The alarms brought two fire trucks and one medic unit rushing to the scene, as well as representatives of Philadelphia Gas Works, University Police, and Physical Plant. University Police activated a fire alarm in Dolby's Bookstore on the Spruce Street side of Stouffer Complex when officers smelled an odor they thought was natural gas. According to University Police Patrol Sargeant Thomas Messner, the source of the smell was never determined and people were allowed to return to the complex within 30 minutes. He said similar incidents have occured in the past when the odor of certain chemicals used in University laboratories was mistaken for the smell of institutional gas. Students said the "fire" alarm led to a chaotic evacuation, with narrow stairwells and single-file cafeteria lines jammed with exiting diners. "We all would have died if it were a real fire," Wharton junior John McCausland said. Many evacuating left with no more than the ice cream or piece of fruit they were eating. One group, however, brought their entire lunches with them, later convincing Dining Service employees to bus their trays for them. "I didn't just want to leave my tray because I thought that would be impolite to the cafeteria people," said College freshman Tamar Niv. -- Michael SirollyComments powered by Disqus
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