Playing with fire will cost $5,000

24 May, 1991

Playing with fire will cost $5,000

The next time members of Dial Lodge play with fire, it will cost the members of the Princeton University eating club $5,000, a borough fee official said Thursday.

Members of the club on Prospect Street were fined $2,500 this week after repeatedly setting bonfires in their yard as a prank, police and tire officials said. Club members had been warned not to buns furniture and other debris following a sexes of fires earlier this month, according to borough Fire Inspector Bill Drake.

“If they do it again it will be a $5,000 fine,” Mr. Drake said.

He issued the club a $2,500 fine on Wednesday after two fires had to be doused by crews the day before, he said.

The bonfires — flaming piles of furniture and debris stacked seven feet high — started on May 5, he said.

Police officers were called to the club at 9:30 p.m. May 5. When they found a large bonfire in the backyard, they called in firefighters, Mr. Drake said.

Club members were warned that bonfires are illegal in the state without proper permits, Mr. Drake said.

“About six hours later they decided to have another one,” the fire official said. “They were told again they couldn’t do this.”

Club members were issued a formal warning that they would be fined if they did not follow state and local rules concerning bonfires, Mr. Drake said.

The state Department of Environmental Protection forbids the fires without a nodes of permits, and notification of local fire officials, he said.

Along with that warning, the club was issued a $100 fine for each bonfire set, Mr. Drake said. State law allows for fines of up to $5,000.

The $2,500 fine was issued by Mr. Drake the day after firefighters were again called to the club for a bonfire.

The fire are dangerous for a number of masons, he said.

Furniture and other materials used give of toxic fumes and the university students have no way of controlling the blaze, Mr. Drake said.

“They have absolutely no way of putting them out,” he said. “They light these huge bonfires and they have no way of controlling them if something happens.”

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