From the University Magazine, May 1994:
`Model evacuation' in Vanbrugh Fire
Staff and students were praised for a model evacuation in Vanbrugh College when a fire began in a study bedroom at 4:30am on 5 May.
About 65 students in A block evacuated the building in four minutes flat and no-one was hurt. The fire services arrived at the scene in three minutes.
The fire is believed to have been caused by a faulty stereo. Third year Politics and Economic and Social History student Christopher Scott awoke to find it in fire and got up to raise the alarm. As he opened the door the smoke alarms went off immediately.
The stud bedroom suffered fire damage and the corridor outside was smoke-damaged. Three study bedrooms suffered slight smoke damage. The four students on that corridor have been rehoused elsewhere in Vanbrugh College whilst the area is redecorated.
Staff will take into account the loss of Christopher's books and papers when considering his exam marks, although much of his work has been assessed during the year.
Although the main blocks were evacuated, X block with it's then newly-installed separate fire alarm was unaffected. Several people (your editor included) slept through the whole thing and were most surprised to find lots of firemen wandering around in the morning.
The fire made the local news, with Christopher Scott being interviewed by BBC Radio York.
From Steve Kilbane.
I remember the (or at least a) Real Fire in Vanbrugh, since i was in vufut at the time (at the back, on the right, as you look through the doors). we stayed in there for the simple reason that it was a damn sight quieter than standing outside, despite the bell being just above the vufut doorway. we were ejected because a fireman opened the doors, holding (but not using) an axe, and say, ``Get out!''. Shamble, shuffle, etc. It's worth nothing that the double-doors had a keycode lock on them, but it was our habit to unbolt the second door so that you could get in without bothering with the keycards. I suspect, but don't know, that the lock didn't automatically open when the fire bells went off, so it might have been interesting what would have happened if we hadn't unbolted the door.
IIRC, that particular fire was caused by a baked spud that had been left in an oven for hours.
From Pete Fenelon.
I think Kilbs is wrong about the 1988 vanny fire -- it was, IIRC, caused by a fairly dumb student sticking a mince pie still in its foil tray into an illicit microwave. I think i know who owned the microwave, too.
The (a?) Goodricke fire was covered in the April 1993 issue of News Sheet:
Student Room Destroyed in Goodricke College Fire
A fire in Goodricke College destroyed a woman student's bedroom and caused smoke damage to one other room and a corridor last month. Fire officers believe that a faulty kettle caused the blaze.
About 90 students were evacuated from C Block at 11:45 pm on Tuesday 16 March when smoke detectors set off the fire alarm. The first year student was not in her room and was safely evacuated with the other students.
Firefighters found the building heavily smoke-logged and caused some further necessary damage as they ensured no-one remained in the building. They praised the University's fire procedures.
There was also praise for the students from Goodricke College Provost Bill Shiels. ``They all behaved very sensibly,'' he said, ``and they opened their own JCR snack bar until they were allowed back into their rooms at about 2 am.'' The student whose room was destroyed was being looked after by friends and College staff. Her parents arrived the following day to see her.
Students with rooms on the corridor which was damaged have been relocated in rooms in Goodricke, and the damaged area will be made good for the start of the summer term.
History of the Colleges