Burning backpack suspected as start of fire in Duke dorm room

From staff reportsFebruary 20, 2014 

— A fire that may have begun when a backpack lying against a radiator caught fire damaged one room in Brown Residence Hall on the school’s East Campus and sent about 40 students to other rooms Thursday night.

Deputy Fire Chief Chris Iannuzzi said the fire was reported at 7:39, and firefighters had it out within 15 minutes of getting to the dorm at 1328 Campus Drive.

An article in Duke Today, the university’s news website, said an initial investigation attributed the fire to a backpack laying against a radiator and catching fire.

Iannuzzi said Friday, however, that fire department investigators had not concluded their investigation and determined the cause.

The Duke Today article said a student returned to Room 302 and found it on fire.

He quickly closed the room door, officials said, and helped prevent the fire from spreading.

Iannuzzi said firefighters found heavy smoke on the third floor when they went into the building.

Duke said in the news report that an inspection showed no structural damage to the building or water damage to other rooms.

Fans were set up to move air through the first and second floors to clear the smell of smoke, and students living there were allowed to return about 11:30 p.m., Duke reported.

"We are just thankful no one was hurt," Larry Moneta, vice president for Student Affairs, said. "We're grateful to the fire department for their incredibly quick and professional response and to everyone else who responded."

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