A batch of cookies set off a kitchen fire alarm in the Mask and Wig hall of Riepe College House, prompting an immediate evacuation of all Riepe residents around 9:56 p.m. on Sunday night during the Super Bowl football game.
Riepe College House Dean Marilynne Diggs-Thompson said someone left cookies in the kitchen for too long, and leftover grease in the oven caused the smoke, which set off the fire alarm.
Diggs-Thompson added in an email statement that the same kitchen in Mask and Wig, which prompted Sunday night’s evacuation, used to be the cause of many evacuations because students and residents would often leave the stove or oven unattended, resulting in a fire.
“After going through years of countless evacuations and a messy kitchen, about 5 years ago the lock was changed and the kitchen was restricted to a few senior staff members only and for my use for catered events and House dinners,” Diggs-Thompson said in the email. “Since then it has stayed spotless under the watchful eye of my House managers - and me.”
Diggs-Thompson wrote that the mess in the oven, which caused the smoke emergency, must have been created by someone who had gained access to the kitchen after Friday afternoon, which was when Diggs-Thompson personally witnessed an “immaculate” kitchen.
College freshman Elyse Kochman said she saw the entire hallway outside of the kitchen filled up with smoke when someone ran out with a tray of cookies shouting profanities.
Kochman said many students didn't evacuate the building, thinking the alarm was a fire drill.
Students who did evacuate from the Mask and Wig hall were ushered out of the building, and after standing outside of the Lower Quad Gate for several minutes were told to go inside of Williams Hall across the street to escape the 38 degree temperature. Inside Williams Hall, students continued to watch the Super Bowl.
Several students followed the protocol from past fire drills and congregated in the center of the Quadrangle. Those students ultimately went into McClelland Hall and continued to watch the game there.
Students returning to the Quad, many shivering in short sleeves and shorts, were not required by security guards to swipe their Penn IDs upon entering.
Division of Public Safety's Director of Operations and External Affairs Kathleen Shields Anderson said in an email that the Penn Police and the Philadelphia Fire Department responded to the fire alarm at approximately 9:58 p.m. and evacuated the building "in an abundance of caution while the smoke aired out," although she said there was no fire. "There were no injuries to anyone nor damage to the building."
This is a developing story and will be updated. This story was last updated on Monday, Feb. 6 at 5:42 p.m.