A fire at a Sweetwater apartment tower displaced nearly 500 Florida International University students Tuesday, but most have since been allowed back inside.
The fire started in a 10th floor kitchen just after 1 a.m. at the tower located in the 700 block of Southwest 109th Avenue. The 15-story Tower 109 is a new complex that houses FIU students.
In a statement Tuesday evening, FIU officials said:
"Residents are returning to their apartments in 109 Towers after a small kitchen fire forced a building evacuation. Only a few students, whose apartments were directly affected, will be relocated until repairs can be done. We would like to thank the residents of 109 Tower for their patience throughout this incident and City of Sweetwater officials for their cooperation in getting the building back in service."
The tower's sprinkler system put the fire out quickly, but left water damage from the 10th floor down.
"The alarms went off and then they stopped, so me and my roommate assumed everything was fine, big mistake. We fell back to sleep. Four hours later, 'Boom, boom, boom. Get out, you've got to get out, the building is unsafe," said Jared Magness.
Hundreds of students were initially displaced by the fire, many telling NBC 6 that finals are approaching.
"It is definitely messing with my work. I have to pass, it's my senior year. I'm graduating, so I have no choice but to pass," Magness said.
FIU said no one was hurt but the building was evacuated and was being inspected in order to determine when students could return.
Authorities said a student was boiling a pot of oil and it caught fire. She put it under running water and then it exploded.
"We're not going to be able to live here for at least a week, cause they have to fix everything, probably like tear the walls down and build them again," said Veronica dos Santos.
Students in need of assistance are advised to contact FIU's Dean of Students' office at (305) 348-2797.