UofR sprinkler evacuation

The University of Regina set up an information booth for students after a residence building was evacuated due to a triggered sprinkler system. (Tory Gillis/CBC )

The majority of 150 University of Regina students are back in their dorm rooms, after being forced out by a fire alarm and sprinklers that flooded part of the school's South Tower Residence over the weekend. 

The sprinklers went off at about at about 1 a.m. CST Saturday morning, forcing an evacuation of the building. Many students had to find somewhere else to stay until crews cleaned up. 

Many students thought it was a routine fire drill and didn't take much with them, but they soon found out that they would not be allowed back inside. 

Out of the 150 students who weren't able to return to their dorms on Saturday, there were 16 still out of their rooms Monday morning, said John Smith, the associate vice-president of student affairs at the university. 

The first group of students was allowed back into rooms late Saturday afternoon, but those living on the fifth floor, where much of the damage happened, were not cleared to go back until Sunday evening.

The sixth floor was even more heavily damaged, and was still undergoing cleanup Monday morning, with 16 students still being put up in hotel rooms.

Water ran through hallways and stairwells in the building, and workers pumped to get it out through the weekend. 

"It's a trying time for students to be wakened in the middle of the night and asked to evacuate; to have to sleep in the education building and north residence," said Tom Chase, the academic vice president at the university.

The school has heard from several students who said their laptops, textbooks and other papers have sustained water damage.

Shenae Reader was visiting her parents in Glentworth and drove back to Regina when she heard her belongings may have been damaged. 

"My textbooks are on my desk shelf, it's kind of low to the ground," she told CBC News. "So I'm just praying that the water was lower than that, because that was like $700 in itself."

Smith said every student has to sign a personal insurance form when they arrive to residence at the start of the school year. 

"Personal possessions, as is similar across the country in residence, is covered by their personal insurance," said Smith. "That's in their residence contract. They're made well aware of that during orientation and before they ever come. It's required as part of their residence."

It's still not clear why the sprinkler system was triggered on the sixth floor of the residence, said Smith. The school is investigating the matter.