Story by Kelsey O’Connor and Jolene Almendarez.

Update (1:30 p.m.) — Damage from the fire was minimal and students were allowed back in the residence hall at about noon. About 120 students were impacted by the small fire Friday morning. Though students can reoccupy their rooms, the bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms on one side of the building remain closed. 

ITHACA, N.Y. — The Ithaca Fire Department has extinguished a fire at a residence hall at Ithaca College on Friday morning.

Firefighters responded to a report of smoke at 8 a.m. at Eastman Hall, a residence hall on the Ithaca College campus.

Ithaca Fire Chief Tom Parsons said the fire began in the dryers because of lint buildup, then traveled up the ductwork and into the attic. The Ithaca Fire Department was able to contain the fire to the ductwork.

Parsons said the fire started in the laundry room of the residence hall and a build up of lint was the culprit.

“The fire extended through the duct work to the top of the building,” Parsons said. “The fire was contained in the duct.”

No one was injured in the fire.

Parsons said there is some property damage. The town code enforcement officer was on scene as Ithaca firefighters were leaving to evaluate the damage to see if the building will be able to be occupied again Friday. The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control was also on the scene.

The fire has displaced more than 100 students, at least temporarily, on the last day of classes. When students evacuated as the alarms went off, many of them still in pajamas headed over to Lyon Hall or Campus Center to keep warm.

Dave Maley, Public Information Officer at Ithaca College, said Ithaca College Residential Life is waiting to hear how bad the damage in the building was. The college is ready to make accommodations for students in the building, he said.

Ithaca Fire Chief Tom Parsons, on left, inspects ducts where the fire started Friday morning at Eastman Hall at Ithaca College. Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice
Ithaca Fire Chief Tom Parsons, on left, inspects ducts where the fire started Friday morning at Eastman Hall at Ithaca College. Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice

Ithaca College freshman Dominic Ramos, 18, was asleep in her dorm when the fire broke out.

“I was asleep and the fire alarm went off,” she said, scaring her enough to make her fall out of the bed.

“At first I thought it was just a drill,” she said, or maybe some smoke from the kitchen, which she said always sets off the fire alarms.

But she quickly realized something else was going on.

She grabbed a long black winter coat and shoes and rushed outside with her friends, who were wearing shorts and slippers in single-digit weather.

Then she watched as four fire trucks rolled up to the building.

She and her friends went to Lyon Hall where two resident advisers relayed information from the IFD to students.

“They said that there was smoke on all three floors,” Ramos said, and students were initially supposed to let back inside within about an hour.

It wasn’t just their sleep that was interrupted. Ramos said one of her friends missed an exam this morning and emailed her professor about making the exam up.

Firefighters were still investigating at the scene about an hour and half, prompting Ramos and her friends went to Campus Center Dining Hall for breakfast.

IC Public Safety, the Cayuga Heights Fire Department, Newfield Fire Department and Lansing Fire Department also assisted with responding to the fire.

In the wake of the fire, the Ithaca Fire Department reminds everyone to check their lint traps and duct work periodically to avoid fires in their homes.

“If the duct work gets filled up with lint and you’ve got a hot dryer running, lint is very combustible,” Parsons said.

Ithaca Firefighters respond to a 2-alarm fire Friday morning at Ithaca College. Photo by Jolene Almendarez/The Ithaca Voice

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.