Northeastern responds to needs of students displaced by fire

Firefighters work to control the multi-alarm fire at 104 Hemenway St. on Oct. 27, 2018. Photos by Lauren Scornavacca for Northeastern University

Northeastern is working to help students who were displaced by a fire that destroyed an apartment building on Hemenway Street on Saturday.

All Northeastern students who lived in the building, which comprises 104 and 108 Hemenway St., have been provided housing in the East Village residence hall.

Students who didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to move into East Village on Saturday, including those who were out of town for the weekend, will be able to move into the residence hall in the following days.

“We’re here to support our students,” said Madeleine Estabrook, Northeastern’s senior vice provost for student affairs. “We’re working tirelessly and with various agencies and various departments of the university to provide resources short term and get ready to have long-term answers for them as we work through this.”

The displaced students who are now living in East Village have been given toiletries, bedding, pillows, towels, writing utensils, notebooks, and other essentials. They also have access to free meals at the dining hall in the Stetson East residence hall.

The campus bookstore will be open at 8:30 a.m. Monday to offer free textbooks and course materials to replace those that were destroyed by the fire. The Office of Student Affairs will have a limited number of laptops available to loan to students on Monday at 11 a.m. in 104 Ell Hall.

The Office of Off-Campus Student Services, located in Speare Hall, will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday to help students understand their renters insurance policies and their rights as tenants.

Academic advisers and representatives of the We Care program, which provides support to students during challenging times, will notify the professors, advisers, and co-op employers of the affected students to request that they provide flexibility for upcoming assignments and exams.

Firefighters work to control the multi-alarm fire at 104 Hemenway St. on Oct. 27, 2018. Photos by Lauren Scornavacca for Northeastern University

Starting on Monday, the Office of Global Services will help international students who lost documents in the fire obtain copies of their passports, I-20s, and other documents.

On Sunday, NUPD officers escorted students to their apartments in 108 Hemenway St. to gather books, electronics, clothing, and personal effects that were not destroyed by the fire. No residents have been able to return to their units at 104 Hemenway St.

Students who have been affected by the fire have been urged to contact Student Affairs by emailing or calling 617.930.0867. The team’s on-site response center, which is located in 104 Ell Hall, is open and staffed to respond to student needs.

“When a calamity happens—on campus or abroad—let us embrace the opportunity to offer one another strength and support,” President Joseph E. Aoun wrote in an email to Northeastern students, faculty, and staff. “In doing so, we do more than care for those in need—we build a collective resilience that makes our community stronger.”

Firefighters responded at 3:17 p.m. on Saturday to what eventually became a seven-alarm fire. NUPD issued a text and email alert at 3:41 p.m. warning the community that there was an active fire in the building.

Another emergency alert issued at 4:25 p.m. urged students affected by the fire to report to the atrium in the Marino Center, where they were quickly identified as in need of housing. Out of an abundance of caution, NUPD also evacuated Kennedy Hall, a Northeastern residence hall  located diagonally across from the intersection of Symphony Road and Hemenway Street.

“This was an extreme situation and we were pleased with the coordinated effort between the Boston Fire Department and numerous agencies,” said Marc Sanders, firefighter and Boston Fire Department spokesperson. “NUPD played an instrumental role controlling the crowd, as well as the traffic in unison with the Boston Police Department.”

The apartments at 104 and 108 Hemenway St. are neither owned nor operated by Northeastern. They house about 70 residents, many of whom are students from Northeastern, Berklee College of Music, and Emerson College.

Boston fire commissioner Joseph Finn told Boston-based TV station WBZ that the apartment at 104 Hemenway St. did not have enough sprinklers to control the blaze. This, he said, is likely what enabled the flames to climb from the second level, where the fire is said to have started, to the fifth and highest floor of the building.

Seven Northeastern students were among those treated for smoke inhalation following the fire, which fire officials have determined was the result of an electrical problem.