Follow us on Instagram
Try our daily mini crossword
Play our latest news quiz
Download our new app on iOS/Android!

One of two Forbes laundry rooms out of commission following fire

Men in black and yellow uniforms dragging red hoses out of a brick building with a white facade with white columns.
Firefighters leaving Forbes College
Louisa Gheorghita / The Daily Princetonian

A dryer in the laundry room of Forbes College Main caught fire around 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18. The main building was evacuated, and the room — one of two laundry rooms in Forbes — is currently out of service.

Teams from the Princeton Fire Department, Princeton Rescue Squad, Plainsboro and Hamilton Fire Departments, and Princeton Plasma Physics Lab Fire Department dealt with the fire, with firefighters on the scene at Forbes College within 10 minutes of the alarm going off.


Joe Novak, the Fire Marshal for the University, told The Daily Princetonian that the fire was “definitely related to the dryer.” He explained that “it was burning inside the dryer and ... smoke was starting to spread.”

According to Novak, the cause of the fire is not yet known, but he thought it was “possibly the dryer vent ... but it’s something [they’re] digging into.” He explained that a contractor will be “tak[ing] apart” the dryer in the coming days to find the exact cause.

In an emailed statement to the ‘Prince,’ University Spokesperson Jennifer Morrill wrote that “several dryers were damaged and removed.”

Ciel Smith ’27 was in the laundry room when the fire began. Smith was putting her clothes into a washing machine when a nearby dryer began smoking. She told the ‘Prince’ that there was a panel on the bottom of a dryer machine that was “open and smoking a lot.” Soon after, she added that “there was a bunch of smoke in the laundry room.”

Novak told the ‘Prince’ that “somebody saw [the smoke] and pulled the fire alarm.” The smoke detectors also picked up the fire after the alarm had been activated.

Novak added that no one was injured — “everyone evacuated,” he explained.


Shortly after the fire, Smith told the ‘Prince’ that her friends in the Forbes Annex, a portion of the residential college which is adjacent to Forbes Main, were not evacuated. One of her friends there “just didn’t hear the fire alarms,” she said. Smith added that she was worried that her clothing was gone in the fire.

In a written statement to the ‘Prince,’ Smith later explained that her clothes were not the ones which had been destroyed, and she was “able to retrieve [her clothes] shortly after the building was cleared.”

Novak told the ‘Prince’ that somebody’s clothes were in the dryer at the time the fire started, explaining that they “were obviously ruined at [that] point.”

Laundry rooms on campus have faced other issues in recent months, including sewage problems in Holder and Henry Halls in November 2023.

Get the best of ‘the Prince’ delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe now »

The fire did not have much effect on the operations of the Forbes Dining Hall. Julian Geffert, the Culinary Production Manager at Forbes, explained to the ‘Prince’ that the dining staff was “getting ready for the dinner service and cleaning up trash” when the fire alarm went off on Sunday afternoon. He also noted that the fire “seem[ed] to have been addressed very quick.”

According to Novak, the timeline of repairs on the room “depends on how fast the contractor can come out,“ which he says will likely be around Tuesday, Feb. 20. He added that the “laundry room is out of service” until the cause of the fire can be identified.

Morrill wrote “the facility is offline until further notice, and instead [residents] may use the Forbes Annex.” She added “the University will provide updates on re-opening as soon as possible.”

Victoria Davies is an assistant News editor for the 'Prince.'

Hallie Graham is a News contributor for the 'Prince.'

Please send corrections to corrections[at]