The Maughan Library has been evacuated twice in the last hour

Not the greatest timing


At about 12:15 this afternoon, an unfamiliar voice rang out over the Maughan intercom to tell library-dwellers that “a fire had been reported on the second floor”, leaving hundreds to file out into the courtyard.

“Anyone on either the second floor or the second floor mezzanine must evacuate via the nearest staircase”.

Unfortunately this didn’t just happen once but twice. People were barely back at their seats after the first alarm before they were told to go back outside.

Hundreds of students spilled out of the building.

Hundreds of students spilled out of the building.

Without stating the obvious, it could not have come at a worse time; aside from the proximity to exams, many students had submission deadlines that afternoon.

“I was on fire with coursework as well”, said Law student, Nathan, looking thoroughly put out. “My deadline’s in 35 minutes, lol,” he added.

Little was known about the cause of the fire, or how severe it was. Orders from officials to “clear the driveway,” along with suggestions fire engines, implied it might be serious, although none arrived. Information was scarce: “We asked a Fire Marshall wagwarn and he said ‘dunno’,” reported one First Year.

We were later told to 'clear the driveway' in case a fire engine might be called.

We were later told to ‘clear the driveway’ in case a fire engine might be called.

Full-time violator of library-based alcohol consumption regulations and occasional Maths student, Isobel, described her and her friend’s fiasco of an escape, hindered by poorly placed directional signs. “We had to leave via the roof, but the signs kept directing us back inside the building, where we couldn’t go. We had to use a ladder and ended up escaping through the moat.”

As hundreds of the evacuated milled about outside, amidst the stench of smoke coming not from the blazing bookshelves, but from from the dozens of cigarettes being smoked, speculation spread like wildfire as to when or if we would be allowed back in. Hot-tempered students, fuming over their revision schedules being thrown off kilter, expressed a burning desire to reunite with their valuables, which they had left behind in the rush to leave. “I’m worried about my laptop,” panicked an ashen faced second year. “Stuff has gone missing from here before.”

Ultimately, students were re-admitted into the building roughly 20 minutes later, with the situation apparently resolved. “Time to run,” murmured Nathan.