Fire safety class urged for PU

March 26, 1993

Fire safety class urged for PU

Second dorm fire prompts concern over prevention

By John P. McAlpin and Laura Lorber

College students need to learn some fire prevention basics, Princeton Fire Chief Raymond Bianco said Thursday after firefighters put out the second dormitory fire at Princeton University this week.

A discarded match started a fire in Forbes College Wednesday afternoon. A student fire-fighter was injured and heavy damage was caused to a room at the dormitory, which is located on Alexander Road.

The fire came two days after an early morning blaze started by a discarded cigarette gutted two suites at Blair Hall and forced the evacuation of 100 students.

Chief Bianco said he intends to hold a fire prevention program at the university. The sooner the better,” he said.

The fire department regularly conducts fire safety awareness programs, but they are usually for the local public schools.

University spokeswoman Jacquelyn Savani said a fire prevention program was a good idea, but she cautioned that it could be difficult to reach all the students.

Following Wednesday’s fire, student Jonah Bossewitch, 22, told police he was trying to pour wax from a candle into a bottle at approximately 3:35 p.m. in order to get the candle to stand upright.

After he was done with the match, he tossed it into a trash can, thinking it was fully extinguished, police said. He then placed the candle and bottle on a plastic milk crate and left the dorm room.

“He heard the dorm’s fire alarm and returned to see smoke coming out from under his door,” Lt. Mario Musso said.

After opening the door, Mr. Bossewitch said he saw flames in the room. Sophomore Eric Gillman, who lives across hall, said, “I ignored the fire alarm for about five minutes because the fire alarm here goes off about once a month.” Mr.

Gillman said he then knocked on doors in the hallway to alert other students. He found four people who also had ignored the alarms sitting in their rooms.

On his way out, he said, “I looked back in the hallway for curiosity’s sake, and the whole hallway was filled with dark smoke and flames were shooting out of the door. Then I just ran outside.”

It took about 15 minutes to bring the fire under control, Chief Bianco said. About 40 fire-fighters and six fire trucks from all three Princeton fire companies responded to the scene, he said.

The fire was in the annex of Forbes College, which was added onto the original building in the 1970s, Ms. Savani said. Forbes College, formerly a hotel called the Princeton Inn, was built in 1925.

Chief Bianco said the room was left with heavy damage from fire, water and smoke, he said.

One firefighter, a university student, injured her knee while putting out the fire, Princeton Township police said. Firefighter Cory Lopez was treated and released from the Medical Center at Princeton.

Special Writer Samantha Slipock contributed to this story.


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