Some Cobb Residents Can't Return After Fire

Cobb dorm fire

Firefighters at Cobb dorm fire. (Photo by The Daily Tar Heel)

Seventy-six students who live on the fourth floor of Cobb dorm won’t be able to return to their rooms for the rest of the semester following a Tuesday evening fire in the building’s attic.

The other 280 Cobb residents were not allowed back in the building as of Thursday. Rick Bradley, associate director of housing and residential education, said that air quality in the building had been determined to be safe, but “if you walk in the building it literally reeks of smoke.” Bradley said he hoped the residents of the first three floors of the 61-year-old building could return “within days.”

Cobb was evacuated safely after the fire broke out at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, and no one was injured. Six fourth-floor rooms, home to 11 students, were damaged significantly. Although other rooms are livable, the floor’s electricity and HVAC must be kept off temporarily.

The cause of the fire has not been determined. Various University and state agencies are involved in the post-fire inspection. Bradley said there was no damage to the roof.

Bradley said that about 200 of the displaced students had asked for on-campus housing — UNC had about 250 spaces available across the campus — and that the others were making their own arrangements.

The Cobb residents were allowed in the building in shifts on the night of the fire to retrieve personal items from their rooms.

Cobb was built in 1952 and was renovated in 2005, including the addition of some common-area rooms, central air conditioning, an elevator and accommodations for disabled people. It has a capacity of 380 students and is equipped with a sprinkler system, smoke detectors and alarms.

All campus residence halls have sprinkler systems except Odum Village, the former married student housing that is used now as overflow housing, primarily when one or more dorms are closed for renovation. Remaining Odum buildings are scheduled for demolition by 2015.

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