An electrical wiring malfunction triggered a fire in University Forest Apartment 603 Friday afternoon, filling the unit with black smoke and causing the neighboring apartments to evacuate, a firefighter said. Nobody was hurt as a result of the fire.

Five engines and two special response units from the Henrico Division of Fire along with police responded to a 911 call made by resident senior Matt Palmisano around 12:30 p.m., Palmisano said. Firefighters entered the unit with a hose but did not encounter any flames. Students living in the neighboring apartments were permitted to re-enter their units shortly after 1 p.m.

Only one resident, Palmisano, was present when smoke began to come out of the circulation vents.

"I was in the back room on the first floor when, all of a sudden, I saw smoke billowing from the ceiling air vent," Palmisano said. "I ran around the apartment to see if I saw visible flames, which I did not, grabbed some valuables from my room as I called 911 and evacuated."

It was unclear whether the apartment had been damaged as a result of the fire, and firefighters could not yet confirm what had caused the wiring malfunction, a firefighter said.

Palmisano said he and his roommates were grateful for the university's help while the issue is being resolved.

"They have relocated us to another apartment for the timeline while damages are taken care of," he said.

Contact reporter Clay Helms at clay.helms@richmond.edu

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