Officers on duty at UT's Humes Hall until further notice

Knoxville (WVLT) -- Four University of Tennessee police officers will be on duty at Humes Hall until further notice.

The State Fire Marshal mandated that, after a second fire was extinguished inside the dorm in less than 24 hours.

As Volunteer TV's Jim Freeman explains, the two fires aren't the only strange occurrences.

She was at the library during Monday's fire, but Tuesday morning, Mary Rochester was in her dorm.

UT student Mary Alex Rochester is a freshman from Knoxville says, "Somebody comes running and bangs on my door and it was like "get out." Wow! It's on our floor."

There were out-of-the-ordinary events last week before this week's fires.

Rochester says, "Like last week, actually someone kept pulling the fire alarm like 20 or 30 times. And it's just like weird how it's all coming together."

Monday's fire on the fifth floor and this morning's fire on the third floor, both on the West Wing, has one student packing her bags.

UT student Courtney Barnett is a freshman from Kingsport and says, "I'm thinking I'm going to head home tonight. I've not been able to sleep here for two nights now. So, I'm probably going to head home back to Kingsport tonight."

UT police are also on the move.

Karen Collins is the spokesperson for the University of Tennessee and says, "We're under a 24-hour fire watch at this time which will be lead by law enforcement."

Until further notice, four UT officers are walking the halls of Humes around the clock.

Knoxville Fire Investigators are also doing their part at a quickened pace.

Captain Brent Seymour with the Knoxville Fire Department says, "Being the second fire in two days, it will step this up so we can get it resolved before anyone gets hurt."

Captain Seymour says KFD units are regulars to campus.

Seymour says, "It's not uncommon for our units to do maybe two or three runs alarms a day-fire alarms a day to campus."

Seymour adds that most are false alarms. But false or for real, UT say it has its students prepared.

UT Police Captain Keith Lambert says, "We practice and train for this type of incident to occur and when it does, the students know exactly what to do and where to go."

If police determine the fires are arsons, and make an arrest, the suspect or suspects could face several years in prison on each charge.


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