American University students given 'all clear' after evacuation for transformer fire

- A fire at American University Saturday morning prompted a campus-wide evacuation. The evacuation has since been lifted. Officials say the fire was caused by a blown transformer.

Just after 7:30 a.m., students awoke to smoke and several emergency text alerts, with orders to evacuate.

"When we were leaving, we saw a bunch of smoke and fire in the back of the dorm and we saw a bunch of smoke on campus, it was really foggy, so that’s what we saw," said American University student Leo Harper.

"When we were leaving, someone ran in and said this is not a drill so we had some concerned then," he said.

Fire officials say the fire started underground and burned in an area adjacent to any dorms. They say students were never in any danger despite being told to evacuate.

"We have no idea where we are going to go," said John Lenox.
 
"Actually I think they did a pretty good job with keeping us informed and telling us where to go but we have no idea when we are going to be able to get back into the dorms," said American University Eric Dollins.

"There’s a variety of reasons that an electrical transformer might catch fire," said DC Fire spokesman Vito Maggiolo.

The fire was burning but contained for at least an hour as firefighters waited for PEPCO to turn off power to the impacted area so the fire could be extinguished.
 
By 10 a.m. the fire was out and building were being assessed for reoccupation. American University did cancel Saturday in-person classes on their main campus while PEPCO continues to investigate.

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