Cause of Allyn Hall fire is determined

Stephanie Park

The cause of the Allyn Hall fire, which forced 80 residents to evacuate early Labor Day morning, was determined to be an electrical problem, said Ed Moisio, university fire prevention and safety coordinator.

Moisio said the fire started near the closet in room 316, and the outlet in question was located behind the residents’ television.

“We’re not sure if it was the power strip or one of the appliances,” he said. “Too much stuff was destroyed (to tell).”

Moisio said the placement of cords and power strips is important with regards to safety. One can’t tell if the cord is hot or even melting if it’s placed out of sight.

“You shouldn’t put any cords under clothes, rugs or behind the beds,” he said.

Betsy Joseph, director of Residence Services, said the residential staff works to ensure all rooms in each hall follow safety standards to avoid fires.

“Resident advisors and residence hall directors inspect rooms as we close for winter break and again during spring break,” she said. “If staff observes safety violations, they are addressed.”

Joseph added all students should take safety precautions into their own hands.

“Residents often have more opportunities to see their neighbor’s room than the hall staff,” she said. “Residents have every right to remind their neighbors and friends to also follow the guidelines and rules in the Hallways Handbook. By doing so, they could very well be helping their communities avoid having to deal with the disruption and tragedy of a fire in their community.”

Along with avoiding disruption and tragedy, damages could also be avoided, Joseph said.

The total damages caused by the fire are still being determined, said David Young, associate treasurer of the Department of Treasury, Tax and Risk Management Services.

“I don’t think (the total cost) is going to go above $750,000,” he said, referring to early estimates set by university spokesman Scott Rainone. “Hopefully, we’ll come in below that figure.”

Young said this figure includes reimbursement, cleaning and reconstruction costs.

The university is still negotiating with students on reimbursements for their personal belongings, Young said. Current estimates show $7,600 for students’ dry-cleaning, $1,000 for new textbooks and $36,000 for replacing personal belongings.

Bob Misbrener, associate director of Campus Environment and Operations, set current estimates for cleaning costs at $130,000.

The figure includes costs of cleaning and sanitizing students’ possessions as well as their rooms on the third and fourth floors, Misbrener said.

The immediate cleanup of Allyn Hall’s first and second floors added to the cost, but was necessary so students could promptly return to their rooms.

The total figure, however, is unavailable as reconstruction continues, Young said.

“We are currently in the reconstruction phase,” he said. “It’s just too preliminary to say where the overall costs will come out.”

Architects met Friday to start figuring their reconstruction costs, Young said. He said the total damage figure might be available next month.

Contact room and board reporter Stephanie Park at [email protected].