Arson suspected in Chi Gam fire

by Nathan Swire | 11/24/08 4:23am

Hanover Police suspect arson in a fire at Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity early Saturdaymorning. The fire did not injure anyone or cause any serious damage.
by Chris Parker / The Dartmouth

An unidentified perpetrator started the fire by igniting an empty Keystone Light box covered with two cans of lighter fluid underneath a pong table in the basement of the fraternity, according to Fidel, who was not present at the time of the fire. Hanover Police believes the fire was the result of malicious action.

"It was a fire that started suspiciously, not by accident, by some electrical problem or anything like that," Giaccone said. "It looked like it was purposely started."

The fire incinerated the pong table, but the fire department extinguished the blaze before it could do further damage to the house, Fidel added.

"They said [if the fire had continued for] five or 10 more minutes, the main staircase or the ceiling would have caught and then there would have been a real problem," he said.

Individuals present in the house at the time of the fire did not immediately respond to the sound of the fire alarm because there have been many false alarms the past, he added.

Hanover Police has not announced any suspects in its ongoing investigation, Fidel said. Members of the fraternity do not know who caused the fire or why the perpetrator would have done so.

"If anyone on campus has any information they think is relevant, we encourage them to speak up," Fidel said in an e-mail to The Dartmouth. "It's in everyone's interest to find out who's starting fires on campus."

This is the second major incident of arson at Chi Gam in the last decade.

In Dec. 1999, four members of Phi Delta Alpha fraternity broke into Chi Gam and ignited a table and curtains using citronella oil, causing significant smoke damage to the basement, according to reports published in The Dartmouth at the time. Phi Delt's failure to take action against these students contributed to the fraternity's derecognition in March 2000.