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SAE fire results in little damage


Photo
JACOB KONST/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Pre-business freshman Eric Torvie surveys the damage to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house yesterday.
By Jennifer Amsler
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
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A small fire on the roof at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house resulted in $5,000 worth of damage and no injuries.

Police were patrolling the area Saturday when one officer noticed smoke coming from the top of the house, 1509 E. Second St., and residents told police the building does not have a chimney, reports stated.

Officers informed fraternity members to exit the house immediately and called Tucson Fire Department around 9 p.m., reports stated.

TFD arrived on the scene within minutes and extinguished the small flames on top of the roof, said SAE President Jeremy Bates.

"It was the quickest response I've ever seen," said Bates, an accounting senior.

The fire department concluded the flames were caused from a 500-watt lamp used to light a mural on the roof. The lamp was moved from its original spot, possibly from the wind, and overheated the air vent, which caused it to ignite, reports stated.

The small flames never left the vent, reports stated.

Before the fire department arrived, fraternity member Walter Tambke, a sophomore majoring in Spanish, climbed onto the roof and pulled an extension cord away from the smoky area before police instructed him to get down, reports stated.

One police officer saw one of the rooms had a light on and music playing and suspected the occupant did not know about the fire, reports stated.

The officer yelled loudly and did not hear a response, so he kicked the door down, reports stated. No one was in the room.

Police closed off East Second Street to traffic for a few hours until police and the fire department could investigate the cause and be sure it was safe for residents to go back in, reports stated.

The fire department eliminated the possibility of arson or foul play.

Bates said the lamp automatically turns on each night at 6. Around 6:30 p.m. he smelled something burning, but it went away shortly after.

The fraternity is hosting a jungle-themed event this weekend, and members already had many decorations hung when the fire ignited.

Fraternity member Eric Torvie, a pre-business freshman, said the private event has not been cancelled, and the area of the house where it will be held did not sustain damage.

Torvie said he understands accidental fires sometimes can happen.

"The house is obviously old and old things catch on fire," he said.



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