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News, University News

Lightning strikes Keeney chimney, forces temporary move-outs

Repairs to take estimated 48 hours, all students living near repairs relocated

Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The lightning strike caused bricks to crumble down the rooftop and to hit the sidewalk below. The damaged area was later cordoned off.

Lightning struck a chimney on the Benevolent Street side of Everett-Poland House during a thunderstorm Tuesday afternoon, according to an email from the Office of Residential Life. 

All students living in the vicinity of the damage were relocated from their dorm rooms as the building undergoes repairs. Facilities estimated that repairs would take approximately 48 hours, according to the email. 


Will Kubzansky


Siri Pierce ’24 was wrapping up a class in her room when the lightning struck directly outside her window.

“I saw a flash in my peripheral vision, but I honestly probably saw the flash second and just heard the noise first, because it was so loud. You felt it more in the body than in your ear,” Pierce said. “Immediately following that, I saw bricks crumble from the chimney onto the cement sidewalks.”

Pierce said that after the strike, the area surrounding the debris in Keeney Quadrangle was blocked off.

“There were a bunch of students gathering on the side of it, people grabbing bricks and things like that,” Pierce said. “After that a facilities van came and then they closed the gate and put up barriers around it.”

Kate Salguero Lizarraga ’24 lives in Everett-Poland just below where the lightning struck and had to move out of her room to allow for repairs. When she returned to her room, she encountered facilities staff who told her she would have to evacuate the room for the night given her proximity to the damage, “which definitely caught me off guard,” she said. 


Will Kubzansky


Salguero Lizarraga said that before she received the email from ResLife, it was not immediately clear to her how long she would be evacuated for.

“When I was talking to the people in the hallway who were trying to get things under control, they said to pack an overnight bag just for the one night and that once I left my room, I couldn’t go back in,” she said. 

It was also not immediately clear where she would be relocated, Salguero Lizarraga said. The University eventually offered Salguero Lizarraga temporary housing in Graduate Center D, but by that time she had already made alternate arrangements to stay with a friend in Hegeman Hall.  

Facilities “had told me that I couldn’t stay there around 4:00, and then at 5:38 is when I got my temporary housing,” she said. “For an hour and a half, I just had no idea where I was going to stay for the night.”

Baihe Sun ’24, who lives down the hall from Salguero Lizarraga and was relocated to Grad Center D, said that she was initially told she would not have to move out, but received an email later telling her she would have to evacuate for 48 hours.


Will Kubzansky


“I understand that the repairs definitely have to be done immediately, but it was a bit worrisome that I had to move out so rapidly,” Sun said. “I was still in class at the time, so it was a bit difficult to manage trying to pack while I still had academic things to do.”

Students not directly affected by the repairs did not receive communication from the University about the lightning strike, said Pierce, who did not have to move.

“It would’ve been nice to just have received some confirmation that they were aware of what happened and that they were working to fix the chimney,” she said.

Once the initial shock of the strike passed, many students found levity in the stormy situation.

“I was FaceTiming people and showing them the bricks, and people were taking photos of it, taking videos posing with it, calling other people,” Salguero Lizarraga said. “Once we realized everyone was physically safe, we decided to have a little fun with it.”

This story is developing. Check back for updates. 

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  1. Benjamin Franklin says:

    It has pleased God in his goodness to mankind, at length to discover to them the means of securing their habitations and other buildings from mischief by thunder and lightning. The method is this: Provide a small iron rod (it may be made of the rod-iron used by the nailers) but of such a length, that one end being three or four feet in the moist ground, the other may be six or eight feet above the highest part of the building. To the upper end of the rod fasten about a foot of brass wire, the size of a common knitting-needle, sharpened to a fine point; the rod may be secured to the house by a few small staples. If the house or barn be long, there may be a rod and point at each end, and a middling wire along the ridge from one to the other. A house thus furnished will not be damaged by lightning, it being attracted by the points, and passing thro the metal into the ground without hurting any thing. Vessels also, having a sharp point rod fix’d on the top of their masts, with a wire from the foot of the rod reaching down, round one of the shrouds, to the water, will not be hurt by lightning.

  2. Bull Meacham '13 says:

    Facilities “had told me that I couldn’t stay there around 4:00, and then at 5:38 is when I got my temporary housing,” she said. “For an hour and a half, I just had no idea where I was going to stay for the night.”

    So within 100 minutes of an “unscheduled” lightning strike FM and Res Life were able to make the area safe, figure out where to relocate students, and prepare that space for relocation. Seems like a rapid response by them and they should be commended. Sorry that you had 90 minutes of housing uncertainty in your life……

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