Student Arrested in Relation to Woodlawn Dorm Fire

The fire took place on January 2 in a single-occupancy room on the sixth floor of Woodlawn Residential Commons. No one was injured.


The entrance to Woodlawn Commons.

By Michael McClure

An undergraduate student in the University was arrested by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) on Tuesday, January 3, in connection to a fire on January 2 in Woodlawn Residential Commons.

Associate Vice President for Safety & Security Eric Heath and Dean of Students Michele Rasmussen shared the news, as well as more details about the fire, in an email Tuesday afternoon to residents of Woodlawn Residential Commons.

The Chicago Fire Department (CFD), which responded to the incident along with CPD and the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD), has declared the building safe for occupation, with no further risk of fire.

“Yesterday the residents and residential staff in Woodlawn Commons responded promptly to a small fire in a single occupancy room, which was extinguished by the Chicago Fire Department. Fortunately, no one was injured and damage was limited to the affected room,” the email read.

The fire was on the sixth floor of the building in Yovovich House, located within Woodlawn’s east wing.

After entering Woodlawn yesterday, CFD asked all residents of the building to “stay in place” before determining that there was no building-wide threat a few minutes later. Residents of the sixth floor in Yovovich House were asked to evacuate their rooms and not return until several hours later.

Records from the UCPD Daily Incident Reports Archive show that the incident occurred at 4 p.m. and was reported six minutes later. The incident log describes a “small fire” in a residential room that “damaged walls, curtains, and door.”

The fire is still being investigated, primarily by CPD, under case code JG012069.

“Your safety is of paramount importance to us. The University is working closely with law enforcement to ensure a thorough investigation of the incident,” the email concluded.

A view of a fire truck, with the ladder extended upward, on East 61st Street from a room in Woodlawn Residential Commons
A view of a fire truck on East 61st Street from Woodlawn Residential Commons (Nitika Kurma)