Florence, AL – Sprinklers assist in limiting fraternity house fire

The cause of the fire that ravaged the back side of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house at UNA has not been determined. Florence Fire Department investigators returned to the Pine Street fraternity house Thursday morning to investigate. Inspector Ryan Orrick said the fire started on the backside of the second floor in the area of an attached deck, but it will be more difficult to determine the cause.

He took photographs of the charred house, and collected samples to be sent for analysis in hopes of finding what sparked the blaze. “This is not uncommon in a large loss fire such as this,” Orrick said of taking time to find the cause. Orrick said the Florence Fire Department allowed fraternity members to enter the house — except the back portion where much of the fire damage was concentrated — to remove belongings.

Members of the fraternity removed boxes of personal belongings, including clothes and school items. Water dripped from a bag of school books one member carried out of the house, and another said water was still dripping from his mattress in a second-floor bedroom. Returning to the house brought some relief to fraternity members and alumni of the chapter who Wednesday watched flames come through the roof of the house for more than an hour.

“It was not as bad as I thought it would be,” alumnus Russ LeMay said. He was on the scene Wednesday and back at the house early Thursday morning to assist members and survey the damage. He said a determination about the fate of the house would be made later, but he was more optimistic that portions might be salvageable.

Bill Rogers, treasurer of the house corporation, said the house had recently passed the necessary fire inspection, and the sprinkler system inside the house worked as it should. The fire alarms could be heard outside the house Wednesday. Eight members of the fraternity lived in the house. No one was injured.

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