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Students evacuated from Palo Verde West dorms following fire

The fire was reported to students via LiveSafe at 9:30 p.m. Monday, and ASU PD cleared the building for normal operations at 11:30 p.m.

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Students leaving their rooms at Palo Verde West on Monday, March 20, 2023 in Tempe.

Students were evacuated from Palo Verde West on Monday night due to a fire in the building. The building was cleared for normal operations at 11:30 p.m., following a series of announcements from ASU Police Department and confusion among residents about evacuation procedures.

Just after 9:30 p.m., an ASU LiveSafe alert sent to students said Tempe Fire and ASU PD were on the scene of a reported fire at Palo Verde West and advised people avoid the area. 

In a 10:20 p.m. email to The State Press, ASU police information officer Adam Wolfe said the floor where the fire was located was evacuated, but no other floors were evacuated.

Another LiveSafe alert at 10:20 p.m. said the scene at Palo Verde West was cleared and that residents could return to the area. 

At 11 p.m., ASU PD said in a tweet that upon further investigation, Palo Verde West was closed to residents and visitors, and people were advised to stay away from the building.

Another tweet just after 11:30 p.m. said ASU PD had cleared Palo Verde West to resume normal activities.

Residents on some floors said the fire alarms did not work and that they were alerted about the fire by their community assistants and fellow residents through group messages and knocking on doors.

A broken window from the alleged room where the fire took place at Palo Verde West on Monday, March 20, 2023 in Tempe.

"We got messages from our floor monitors that said that (the alarm) was not working, and they told us to evacuate," said Mandy Organista, a first-year student studying psychology. She said she lives on the second floor.

Sebastian Gomez, a freshman studying biological sciences, was on the first floor of the building and was leaving the bathroom when his friend and fellow resident Connor Demerchant, a freshman studying biological sciences, alerted him of the fire. Demerchant said he lives next door to where the fire took place and that he also alerted his CA about the fire.

"It's just filled with smoky smell," Demarchant said. "Something was on fire."

Saraye Fuentes, a freshman studying psychology, said she was getting help on her math homework when she and people around her noticed smoke and flames. She said she tried to pull a fire alarm, but it did not work.

"When we tried to pull the fire alarm, it didn't work," she said. "I had to call 911."

Students on the first floor said a smoke alarm went off and a fire alarm sounded on the first floor and outside of the building.

This story is developing and may be updated.

Edited by Greta Forslund and Reagan Priest.

Reach the reporters at and and follow @shanebrennan36 and on @walkerrTR on Twitter.

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Shane BrennanEditor-in-Chief

Shane Brennan is the Editor-in-Chief at The State Press. He was a sports and politics reporter, before becoming the editor of the politics desk. He has covered local and state politics for the Arizona Capitol Times and Cronkite News.

Walker SmithSports Editor

Walker Smith is a managing editor in the digital department of the State Press. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor on the sports desk and works for Blaze Radio and interned at Big Slate Media in broadcast productions.

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