Apr 042012
Authors: Elisabeth Willner

Two March campus fires are under investigation by the Poudre Fire Authority for suspicious causes.

The fires, which took place several weeks apart –– one in Ingersoll Hall and the other in the Eddy building –– currently have no linking factors, except their suspicious origins, according to authorities.

“We by no means have a pattern,” said Captain Patrick Love, the public affairs and education officer for the PFA.

The first of the fires burned a closet in Ingersoll Hall on March 2, and the second was found in a men’s bathroom in Eddy on the morning of March 26.

While authorities could not comment on any likely causes due to the ongoing investigation, the PFA said there are currently no indications that more fires will occur.

“Even though we’ve had a couple of suspicious fires we do not think the public is in any additional danger,” Love said.

On campus, fires are no more common than elsewhere in the city. According to Love, the number and character of the fires reported on campus usually resemble those reported elsewhere in Fort Collins and throughout the country.

“Most fires we see whether on campus or in the district are fairly in line with the types we see nationwide,” Love said.

When a fire is reported, the PFA is the first to mitigate the damage. Once the fire has been extinguished, the agency then begins an investigation, with the help of the CSU Police Department, to determine what caused the fire.

Each agency has different expertise for determining what occurred.

“[The PFA] investigator may be more adept at figuring out finite details about how a fire started,” Love explained. “Law enforcement may take those details and run with the leads that are developed.”

Before this process begins, prevention measures are put in place.

In the residence halls, where the March 2 Ingersoll fire occurred, CSU prepares for fires by testing sprinkler and alarm systems several times a year.

RAs are also trained by the PFA to handle emergency situations in a session before school starts in August.

“Among the exercises of the day, they get to use a fire extinguisher to put out a fire in a pan, and we talk with them about general fire safety,” wrote Ken Quintana, the university coordinator of emergency planning and response, in an email to the Collegian.

From a student perspective, the work of the PFA may seem like background.

Junior health and exercise science major Rachel Newcomb said that she doesn’t think much about fire safety on campus.

“I think in the back of my mind I know they have smoke detectors and alarms, in case something happens,” Newcomb said.

Newcomb had heard about the Ingersoll fire, however, and thought that the PFA and the CSUPD did a good job responding to it.

“From what I know, they responded pretty fast to Ingersoll,” Newcomb said. “I think they’re pretty efficient.”

If students encounter a fire on campus, they should pull the fire alarm, get out of the building and call 911.

Collegian writer Elisabeth Willner can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Fires on campus in March

Ingersoll Hall
When: March 2, 9:40 p.m.
Where: First floor, southwest
What caught fire: Dorm room closet
Dollars lost: $10,000

Eddy Building
When: March 26, 7:52 a.m.
Where: First floor men’s bathroom
What caught fire: Trash can

Provide Information
Students with information regarding either of the two March fires should contact the Colorado Arson Hotline at 877-892-7766.

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