The Columbia Fire Department responded near the Park Street entrance. (Photo by G.E. Hinson)

Hundreds of students were evacuated from USC’s Darla Moore School of Business on Tuesday because of smoke in the kitchen. 

Darla Moore’s Interim Dean Janice Bass said she heard that fire alarms were set off in a lower-level kitchen.

Mark Ferguson, the senior associate dean for academics and research at Darla Moore, called it “very unusual.” 

“We have no idea what’s going on,” he said shortly after the Assembly Street building was evacuated around 10:30 a.m. 

Firefighters and police responded to the alarm in downtown Columbia as students gathered outside of the business school and in front of the Koger Center for the Arts. 

Some students were laying on the sidewalk after nearly 20 minutes of waiting. Portions of the sidewalk were so full that students and faculty were spilling out onto Greene Street before the building opened back up just before 11 a.m. 

“We were in the middle of our exam, and the emergency alarm started going off and didn’t stop,” said Lucie Fisher, a marketing major. “So we all had to leave in the middle of our exam.”

Student Hannah Barber’s professor plans to reopen her class’s exam and move it online, Barber said. She said she’s grateful her class is able to adjust but disappointed that the exam will be moved after she “studied so hard” for it. 

Students Kelsey Akers and Erin McCauley also evacuated. Akers was in a class, and McCauley was studying when the alarm went off.

Neither knew what happened. The University of South Carolina did not issue a Carolina Alert notification about the incident.

“It was a general alarm that we responded to,” said Billy Rae, the firefighter that responded to the scene. “The exhaust hood in the kitchen that’s over the stove tops and ovens, we’ve lost a motor or a belt on that.”

The kitchen will reopen once repairs are made to the exhaust hood, Rae said. 

“I would think once maintenance comes they (the kitchen) could open back up,” said Brandon Orr, Darla Moore building manager. 

Staff reporters Margaret Walker and Raymond Escoto contributed.

Students and staff could not stand on the sidewalk just in front of the business school building. (Photo by G.E. Hinson)

Some classes were evacuated to the patio beside the Carolina Coliseum. (Photo by Abby Foncannon)

Police responded to the Greene Street entrance of the building. (Photo by Abby Foncannon)


G.E. Hinson

G.E. Hinson

Hinson is a senior multimedia journalism major at the University of South Carolina. She has worked as a writer, assistant editor and managing editor for the student-run Garnet & Black Magazine. The self-proclaimed “Mouth of the South” focuses on unique and underrepresented perspectives in the American South. In her free time, she enjoys flipping through cookbooks.

Taylor Beltz

Taylor Beltz

Beltz is a senior journalism major at the University of South Carolina. While she leans towards covering sports, she also enjoys writing about small businesses and business development around Columbia. In her free time, she is fond of embroidering, baking and playing tennis.

Abby Foncannon

Abby Foncannon

Foncannon is a senior journalism major and business administration minor at the University of South Carolina. A military brat, Foncannon has spent her life traveling and looks to continue that in her career. She is interested in humanitarian issues and being a catalyst for difficult conversations. She focuses on localizing national issues so the community can see the direct effects.