A fire briefly raged in a kitchen in a student building on Essenburgsingel in Rotterdam-West at around 4.30 am last night. The fire service and police evacuated the entire building, leaving between fifty and seventy residents to spend over an hour on the street in their pyjamas before they could return inside and go back to bed.

The morning after the fire, which broke out on the bottom floor, there were no visible traces on the outside of the building. “After fifteen minutes we had the fire under control, but then we had to air out the whole building,” said a spokesman for the fire service.

“Two residents were taken to hospital because they had inhaled smoke,” said the spokesman. “It has carbon monoxide in it. If residents coughed up soot, or if soot came out of their nose when they blew it they had to go to hospital. That was the case with these two people.”

“We had to get out of the building as quickly as possible”

Tired-looking resident Demi Harteman (21) recounted what happened to her last night. She has been living in the building for about a month and a half, and was woken up by a housemate. “We had to get out of the building as quickly as possible; the police and the fire service rang our doorbell. We were able to simply leave the building by the front door. And we were allowed to go back to bed after about an hour.” A lie-in was out of the question, however: this morning she had to return to her internship as usual.

23-year-old Bob was also evacuated last night. “One of my housemates was still up. He was sitting in the window of our flat, and suddenly saw loads of people in front of the building. He woke us up and we went outside together. When we left the building, masked firefighters went inside and set up fans in the corridor,” he said as he nibbled his breakfast. He was on his way to the university to study for his exam this Friday. “I wanted to get up early. As far as that goes the fire didn’t do me a lot of good,” he laughed.

Fire service: no more night-time fry-ups

The spokesman for the fire service had a warning for students. “We’ve been saying it for years: avoid cooking or frying at night, or at least stay close by if you do. You will then be able to put the lid on the pan quickly. All too often, we see things going wrong when students get back after some nocturnal escapades with a few beers inside them and then start frying or baking.”