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Remember that fire in Few last year? It cost more than $160,000

What might have seemed like an insignificant fire did more than $160,000 of damage, Duke’s 2017 Annual Fire Safety Report revealed. 

The report estimates that it caused $161,821 in property damage and $1,560 in content damages. The report, issued annually as required by the Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act, includes statistics concerning on-campus fires. It also reviews campus fire safety policies and plans for future improvements. 

“The majority of the cost was to completely rebuild the room in which the fire occurred and address smoke damage in that section of Few, which was significant,” wrote Joe Gonzalez, assistant vice president of student affairs and dean for residential life. 

Last December, a number of students were forced to evacuate from Few Quadrangle HH after a small fire in one of the rooms. Multiple emergency vehicles responded to the incident, which affected rooms 101-106 and 201-206 most heavily but triggered the sprinkler system in 25 rooms. Nobody was injured in the fire.

Gonzalez added that the repairs “took most of winter break to complete.” 

Other residential fires listed in the report for 2017 include two accidental fires in 300 Swift—one in which a candle ignited a sofa and caused $800 in damages and a cooking fire that caused $6,000 in damages. Additionally, a bulletin board was intentionally ignited in Edens, causing $428 in damages.

At the time of the Few fire, Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, blamed a micro-fridge for producing smoke and triggering the sprinkler systems. The report lists the cause of the incident as “ignition by candle,” but accidental. Gonzalez did not comment on the different stated causes.

Despite the expense for the University, Gonzalez noted the costs really were not that high. 

“It was fortunate that the fire was contained to one room and no one was harmed,” he wrote.

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin is a Trinity senior and was editor-in-chief for The Chronicle's 116th volume.


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