Category Archives: Sorority / Fraternity

Winona, MN – Sprinkler system activated for fire in historic mansion; No injuries reported

Twelve residents of the historic Huff-Lamberton mansion in Winona are displaced after a fire broke out around 2:31 a.m. Friday.

The fire was confined to a common area near the entrance to the mansion, according to the Winona Police Department.

The fire, which required off-duty firefighters to be called for assistance, resulted in minor fire, smoke and water damage to the building.

The fire did not result in any injuries, but the department reported one resident had to be assisted in evacuating the building by firefighters.

The residents of the mansion are being assisted by the Red Cross to find new housing.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The mansion was sold earlier this year to the Kappa Chi Fraternity for $1.85 million, over double the estimated market value of the mansion, according to Winona County’s commercial sale records.

Kappa Chi chapter president Creighton Butler said that the fraternity has not moved into the mansion yet and the residents had leases from before the purchase of the property.

He said the sprinkler system activated and helped contain the fire to the common space. The building’s fire alarm system automatically reported the blaze to the Winona Fire Department.

Butler said there was “a lot to be figured out still” for the fraternity regarding its plans to move into the mansion.

The mansion, built in 1857 by one of Winona’s founders, Henry Huff, has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.

Charlottesville, VA – Sprinkler system activated for fire at fraternity

Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers on UVA Grounds had a fire in their house on Rugby Road Thursday night.

It happened around 10:00 p.m. Albemarle County Fire Rescue, the Charlottesville Fire Department and UVA Police arrived on scene.

According to ACFR, who is leading the investigation along with university police, the fire started in the basement. People inside used extinguishers to try to put out the fire before being forced to leave the room because of smoke. The smoke triggered the sprinkler system, something ACFR says was very important and could have saved lives. 

“Activating that sprinkler system enabled them the opportunity to get out of the house safely. So everyone was able to evacuate safely. It also reduced the fire’s destruction which gave time for the fire rescue units to get on scene,” said Abbey Stumpf, ACFR PIO.

ACFR says thanks to the sprinkler systems limiting the damage, displaced residents of the building will be able to move back in more quickly.

The university says a small number of people were treated for smoke inhalation, but there was no other injuries.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

College Park, MD – Sprinkler system activated for fire at sorority house; No injuries reported

Members of the Tri Delta sorority evacuated their sorority house on Wednesday at about 6 p.m. after a fire broke out in the basement, according to Prince George’s County Fire Department spokesperson Michael Yourishin.

The sorority house’s sprinkler system put out the bulk of the fire, Yourishin said. Nobody in the house was injured.

“It just goes to show you the importance of having a sprinkler system in buildings like that,” Yourishin said.

Members of the sorority were evacuated for about an hour after the fire started in a dryer in the laundry room, said Tri Delta member Ellie Laffargue.

Laffargue, a junior public health science major, was in her room watching “Gilmore Girls” when the house’s fire alarms went off. At first, she thought it was one of many false alarms that occur in the house when sorority members blow dry their hair or accidentally set the alarms off, she said.

Laffargue said she darted down the stairs without shoes on after she heard the house chef scream at residents to evacuate.

Once it was safe to return back into the building, Laffargue says many of the residents noticed smoke in the hallways and in their rooms.

“Even when we were allowed back in, a lot of girls stayed outside because of how bad it smelled,” Laffargue said.

The laundry room is off-limits to residents for the next couple days due to smoke and water damage from the sprinklers, she added.

Stillwater, OK – Early morning fraternity house fire doused by sprinkler system; No injuries reported

The Stillwater Fire Department says around 40 Oklahoma State University students have been displaced after a fire early Thursday.Firefighters responded around 3:50 a.m. to a fire alarm at the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house near 3rd and Lincoln. It was reported that smoke was coming from a room on the third floor and students were evacuating.

The fire department says the fire had been in a closet and was extinguished by the sprinkler system. No injuries were reported in the fire.  The sprinklers caused significant damaged to the west side of the building, according to the fire department. University officials and the Red Cross are providing assistance to the displaced students.  The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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.

Charlottesville, VA – Early morning fire at UVA fraternity house extinguished by sprinkler system

Charlottesville first responders were dispatched to an accidental fire Saturday morning at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house in the 500-block of Rugby Road. The city fire marshal says it originated in the fireplace of the more than 100-year-old frat house.  A sprinkler system quickly extinguished the fire. It was discovered shortly after 6 a.m. Saturday.

Philadelphia, PA – Early morning fire at Psi Upsilon fraternity contained by sprinklers; Arson is possible cause

A “possible arson” was reported at the Psi Upsilon — also known as Castle — fraternity house at 4:04 a.m. on Friday, Division of Public Safety Chief of Fire and Emergency Services Eugene Janda said. Upon arrival, evidence of an active fire was found, along with indications that the built-in sprinkler system had managed to contain the blaze. The Philadelphia Fire Department said that by the time firemen arrived, the fire had been put out. Janda said they believe an open flame met with combustibles caused the fire to spread.

The house — located at 250 S. 36th St. just off Locust Walk — had its alarm system go off. The Philadelphia Fire Department, Penn Police Departmentand Penn Fire and Emergency Services were all alerted immediately, Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said. The Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s office was notified along with the Philadelphia Police Department. Alongside DPS, both departments will be working on an ongoing investigation into what was described by Janda as a “possible arson.”

Castle President and Wharton senior Michael Pozzuoli declined to comment on the fire.  Janda was quick to point out the effectiveness of both the alert and sprinkler systems in this instance, mentioning that without the systems, this could have been a “totally different story.”

Just a few weeks ago, on Sept. 24, Phi Gamma Delta’s off-campus house experienced a fire when a dryer went in flames while a resident was doing laundry.

Implementation of the sprinkler systems in Greek houses began in the 1960s and 1970s. The systems were so effective that by the early 2000s, Penn had spent at least $32 million ensuring that all 14 residential buildings on Penn’s campus had them in place. “Everyone has a sprinkler over their heads at night,” Janda said.

Janda emphasized safety measures that can be taken to avoid potential disasters. “Get up, get out, and account,” is the main thing to remember in case of a fire, he said. “Account” refers to checking on the status of fellow residents and reporting any missing persons to responding emergency personnel. Greek houses in particular are encouraged to have a coherent, established plan in case of emergency. Though this may not be the most exciting topic to bring up at the next chapter, Janda knows it very well might save a life.

Salt Lake City, UT – Suspected arson fire at University of Utah fraternity is contained by sprinkler system

Fires at two fraternity houses at University of Utah are being investigated as arson, Salt Lake City Fire officials said Friday morning.  At about 4:13 a.m., fire crews arrived on scene at the Pi Kappa Alpha house, 1431 E. 100 South, to find a fire on the third floor.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze and kept it contained to one area of the house, which caused damage in the game room, according to a press release from SLC Fire.  Just 18 minutes later, SLC Fire crews responded to the Beta Theta Pi house, 70 S. Wolcott St., on a report of a fire in the basement laundry room.

When firefighters arrived, they found the sprinkler system had kept the small fire under control, the release indicated. Crews then quickly extinguished the remaining flames. Officials say the fires are likely connected. Both fires are currently under investigation. No injuries were reported at either incident.

Pullman, WA – Sprinkler helps limit damage in fraternity house kitchen fire

Sunday morning at 6:00 a.m., members living in the Delta Tau Delta house [on the Washington State University campus]  were woken up by a fire alarm. Someone had left the stove on after cooking an early morning snack.

“The fire started here and it went to the back of the stove, it lit up,” said Sam Cook, Fraternity President.

Pullman Fire Department officials said the stove had a significant amount of built up grease that hadn’t been cleaned. “That provided a good fuel source for the fire and so once it got hot enough and ignited then away it went,” said Rick Dragoo, Fire Prevention Officer.

The grease flames activated the stove’s hood extinguisher and a nearby sprinkler.  “That kept it from moving into the exhaust system and out and possibly maybe even up the side of the house,” said Dragoo.