Fire in East Campus Basement Thought To Be Result of Arson

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A fire occurred in the west parallel of East Campus on Sept. 8.
Tech File Photo

East Campus was evacuated Tuesday morning, following a trash-bin fire that occurred in the basement of the west parallel. No one was harmed, but sprinklers flooded the basement and several student rooms in Wood entry. Arson is suspected.

“While I am pleased that no one was hurt, I must also report that the Cambridge Fire Department is investigating the possibility that this fire was set deliberately,” said Dean for Student Life Chris Colombo in an e-mail sent to East Campus residents on Wednesday.

The cause of the fire has not been publicly disclosed. “This is an open and ongoing investigation so no information will be released,” said Sergeant Cheryl Vossmer of the MIT Police.

The fire appears to have been set intentionally. A resident on First West said that, according to his GRT, the fire was started by a taped-open lighter that had been dropped down the trash chute.

The fire began around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, setting off sprinklers in the basement and on the first floor. The sprinklers put out the fire but flooded five student rooms on the first floor in Wood entry, near the trash chute. Residents evacuated and were barred from reentering until 3 a.m.

Maintenance crews cleaned the damaged rooms and residents moved back on Tuesday afternoon. Fans were put in the hallway to prevent mildew. MIT insures dorms against sprinkler damage, but not student property.

East Campus housemaster Thomas J. Delaney said that East Campus takes incidents involving fire seriously. Colombo said that the Delaneys would host a fire safety session with Cary Williams, assistant officer of the Environmental Health and Safety Office’s Safety Program.