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Candle sparked Saturday night fire in BU dorm

Boards were placed over the windows of where a Boston University apartment on Commonwealth Avenue caught fire on Saturday.Michael Swensen for The Boston Globe

A candle caused the fire that damaged a Boston University dormitory and displaced dozens of students Saturday night, the Boston Fire Department said Sunday.

Most of the displaced students were able to return to their rooms late Sunday afternoon, university officials said.

But students who live in 11 dorms near the front of the building — where the one-alarm fire broke out Saturday night — will be put up at the Residence Inn in Kendall Square for at least two days, according to BU.

One student suffered minor injuries in the blaze at 722 Commonwealth Ave., near the center of campus, according to BU and the Boston Fire Department. About 40 students had to either find housing for Saturday night or were given accommodations by the school, said BU spokesman Colin Riley.


“Everyone was taken care of,” he said.

The injured student was taken to the hospital but quickly released, Riley said. She was the only person in the unit when the fire started, he said.

Boston fire spokesman Brian Alkins said a candle that was near combustible items started the blaze. Candles are not permitted in BU dorms “due to potential fire hazards,” according to university policy.

Boards were placed over the windows where a Boston University apartment on Commonwealth Avenue caught fire on Saturday.Michael Swensen for The Boston Globe

The fire came at an already stressful and busy time for the campus — the middle of move-in weekend at the university of more than 16,000 undergraduate students. Matriculation ceremonies for the incoming freshman class took place Sunday afternoon, and classes start on Tuesday.

“You can imagine how difficult it is Labor Day weekend,” Riley said.

By early Sunday evening, two third-floor windows had been boarded up, and the displaced students were able to go back into the building. The brick above the windows appeared charred.

On the street, a large moving truck was loaded up with the belongings of students who were temporarily moving into the hotel.


Desmond Molloy, a BU senior, said he was in his apartment near the dorm where the fire started when he heard an alarm go off. Then he heard someone yell “fire” in the hall and he quickly exited the building.

From outside the dorm Saturday night, flames could be seen raging inside the room during the fire.

The third-floor windows were “glowing orange,” Molloy said after loading a few bags into the moving truck.

“It’s a pain in the neck, but in perspective, it’s not terrible,” he said.

Flames shot through a window of the 722 Commonwealth Ave. building on Saturday.JORDAN BENTLEY

Kai Hellberg said he thought the alarm was for a fire drill at first. But about 30 seconds after he left the building, he said, firefighters were rushing in.

“We could see the glare of fire in the window,” said Hellberg, who lives on the same floor as the fire but said he didn’t think it would spread to his room. “We could smell the smoke from [down the road].”

The BU junior stayed with his parents in their hotel room Saturday night.

“It was an interesting little interruption,” he said, before moving back into his room.

Meanwhile, senior Oguzhan Asil slept through several minutes of the fire alarm, he said. He had just finished traveling for about 24 hours from Istanbul.

“I was the only one left that didn’t leave,” he said before packing up his belongings to go to the hotel.

Asil, who lives on the second floor, said BU handled the whole situation well, though he said the last day has not been easy.


“I was tired, and this, it’s beyond ridiculous,” he said.

Sarah Maietta, a junior at Boston University, moved into the building on Sunday that caught fire the night before. Michael Swensen for The Boston Globe

The students being housed at the Residence Inn in Cambridge were told to plan to stay for at least two nights, according to a BU statement posted online. The school will arrange for the students to take free Lyft rides from the hotel to campus.

Pictures from inside the dorm tweeted by Boston fire Saturday night showed a dresser that was burnt on one side, blackened walls, and destroyed siding near the window.

The damage to the room — caused by smoke, fire, and water — is estimated at $200,000.

The building, which houses 79 students, was about two-thirds full Saturday night, Riley said.

J.D. Capelouto can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jdcapelouto.