Cheyney, PA – Suspected arson fire at university residence hall extinguished with help from sprinkler system

State police and campus detectives are investigating a suspicious dormitory room fire that sent a campus police officer to the hospital and caused the evacuation of more than 100 students from Tubman Hall at Cheyney University in Thornbury about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, said Trooper John E. Stewart Jr., a member of the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal Unit.

“It was intentionally set. It is still under investigation,” said Stewart Sunday afternoon.  He noted an unknown person or persons entered room 518 on the fifth floor of the residence hall and attempted to set a student’s personal belongings on fire, which activated the emergency sprinkler system.

“The room’s occupant was not present at the time of the fire’s discovery,” said Stewart.  A Cheyney University Police Department sergeant who responded to the blaze suffered chest pains and smoke inhalation and was transported to Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Upland, where he was treated and released, noted the state trooper.

“The sprinkler knocked down the bulk of the fire and he took down the rest,” said Stewart.  The name of the officer who extinguished the blaze was not available at press time.  Stewart said the fire was contained to one room and resulted in mostly water damage.

Concordville, Rocky Run and Edgmont fire companies responded to the fire, as did members of some Chester County fire departments, said Stewart. The scene was reportedly cleared by just after 8 a.m. Sunday.

Gwen Owens, director of public relations for Cheyney University, said Tubman Hall houses 127 students. She said they were permitted re-entry into Tubman Hall to retrieve items Sunday afternoon and have been temporarily relocated to two other residence halls on campus.

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