By: Ashley Harding
Hundreds of UNL students are forced out of their beds after someone sets a fire in a residence hall. It happened at Smith Hall just before 5:00 Thursday morning. Investigators are calling it arson and they're still looking for a suspect.
It was just before 5:00 when fire alarms went off in Smith Hall at UNL. It sent hundreds of residents out of their beds and into the cold. Joe Hill and Derek Janecek were among them.
"Basically everybody was outside. Since we live on floor 9, we were one of the last ones out," said Janecek.
"I had an early class, so I wasn't too thrilled about it, getting up. But I had to do it," said Hill.
Fire officials later determined that someone had set a bulletin board on fire in the third floor lobby. It created heavy smoke. Assistant Chief Charlotte Evans with UNL police says they're investigating it as an arson, which carries a prison term of 1 to 50 years. She also says it was nearly an hour before residents were allowed to return to their rooms.
"Those that are meant to be harmless pranks can turn out to be very harmful pranks. When we're dealing with fire inside of an occupied building, we have to take it serious. People could get hurt," said Evans.
UNL Police are actively looking for the suspects. Their hope is that someone who knows something will come forward. For the students who lost some sleep, they hope it's soon.
"They should know better by now. You're in college now," said Hill.
"If the fire department didn't arrive on time, I mean, there could've been some serious damage to people's belongings," said Janecek.
There's no word yet on the dollar damage. Anyone with information is urged to call the UNL police department at (402) 472-2222. Or call Crimestoppers at (402) 475-3600.