PURCHASE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Students were shocked and saddened Monday after a fire broke out in a dormitory at SUNY Purchase.

The fire broke out at around 10 p.m. Sunday night in a residence hall at the campus, CBS2 reported.

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As CBS2’s Steve Langford reported, it was a nightmarish scene outside the dorm. Flames erupted inside a ground floor unit at the two-story apartment complex known as the Commons.

The complex does not have a fire sprinkler system.

“My friend was in the apartment and she was cooking something, and then she said that it just went up in smoke,” said student Mary Speed.

Speed was sitting outside when she saw a friend run out of the building.

“She’s like, ‘I don’t know how to use a fire extinguisher,’” Speed said.

Students and staff managed to make sure all 19 residents of the six units ablaze in the affected section of the building got out – just in time. There were no injuries.

“Everyone’s safe — that’s what’s most important right now,” one student said.

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“I’m pretty sure, like, I saw people were crying that probably lived there,” another said.

Many could do nothing but stand and watch as their precious possessions burned.

“What we know is a student was cooking,” said college president Thomas Schwarz.

Schwarz said the victims were put up at a nearby hotel.

“We’ll help them so that they don’t, will not have lost everything,” he said.

More than 100 students must wait until they are allowed back in to check on their dwellings.

Purchase College is among 64 universities that make up the State University of New York system.
About 4,200 students attend the liberal arts college.

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