Mayflower evacuated after reported gas smell, now resolved

Students stood outside for approximately 25 minutes before they were allowed back in. The Iowa City Fire Department typically responds to these reports multiple times a year at Mayflower, Battalion Chief Zach Hickman said.


Kate Perez

Students stand outside of Mayflower Hall on Thursday night after gas smell is reported.

Kate Perez, News Reporter

Students in Mayflower Residence Hall, an east side University of Iowa dorm with more than 1,000 residents, had to evacuate after a reported smell of gas in the area, according to a Hawk Alert sent out at 10:26 p.m. Thursday night.

The Iowa City Fire Department resolved the gas smell by 10:40 p.m. according to an updated Hawk Alert. Two police cars and one fire truck arrived on the scene to respond to the issue.

Iowa City Fire Department Battalion Chief Zach Hickman said one of the residents reported smelling gas from the fifth floor, but the crew did not find any readings on their monitors of gas.

“The only thing in the room was a gas stove. They shut it off as just a precaution, but there was no read of anything flammable in the area,” Hickman said.

While attempting to leave the building as quickly as possible, Mayflower hall resident Maria Engler said it was difficult to evacuate from the fifth floor.

“It was really cramped,” Engler said. “A lot of us got stuck on the third floor. People weren’t moving.”

Ryan Murray, another Mayflower resident, said the stairways were crowded.

“I left from the second floor so I got out pretty early, but I could tell it was really bad behind us,” Murray added.

Hickman said most of the students were out by the time the crew was on the scene, but “there were still some stragglers.”

Hickman added that the fire department responds to reported gas smells several times a year at Mayflower Hall since that residence hall has gas stoves in rooms.

“Lots of times people aren’t just familiar with that smell. Occasionally they do malfunction, not very often. Most times we get there and don’t really find anything, someone had just smelled something, and was nervous or concerned and so they end up calling the fire department,” Hickman said. “ … It’s very rare that we ever find actually a dangerous situation.”

Natalie Dunlap contributed to this report.