An apartment on the fourth floor of Emerson Hall Apartments caught fire in late September. Dedicated in 1898 as a women’s dorm and located at the northeast corner of Chapin Quad, the building is owned by the college but has been leased since 1982, when it was converted to housing for senior citizens. All 29 residents were evacuated safely, but they were displaced as a result of damage.
Because of Emerson’s proximity to Commons dining hall at dinnertime, many students were close by as firefighters put out the blaze. When firefighters asked for volunteers to assist residents, students jumped in. Among them were Matthew Hodgkin’16, Yarmouth, Maine, and Sam Kupferberg’16, Larchmont, N.Y., who carried residents who couldn’t walk into Commons, where the college opened the Presidents Lounge as a place to rest and regroup.
“After about two hours, the fire chief announced that they would be letting people, one by one, back into the building to grab personal belongings,” says Kupferberg. “There were a few people who could not walk themselves and had no family or friends around, so we took lists of things they needed.”
Kupferberg and Hodgkin accompanied firefighters as they retrieved residents’ belongings. One trip was on behalf of a man in a wheelchair who needed his diabetes medication and his cat, which they found hiding under a bed. “He was extremely grateful to see that his cat was safe once we brought it to him,” says Hodgkin.