Three Cases Of Arson At Westminster College

31 May, 1989 (~estimated)

Three Cases Of Arson At Westminster College

The 1981 sedan of the President of Westminster Choir College was torched and destroyed early Mon-day morning and two other fired were started earlier at Erdman Hall and the stu-dent center on campus, in what Borough police said this week were three definite cases of arson. In all three, there was evidence that an accelerant was used.

No one was seen and there are no suspects. ”We’re investigating. It’s a priority case,” said Capt. Thomas Michaud.

At 3:15 Monday morning, Ptl. Ronald Wohlschlegel and Ptl. Keven breegan responded to a call of a car on fire on campus near the residence of the college president, William Fuller. When the officers arrived, they found a 1981 Olds, narked in the driveway of the president’s home fully engulfed in flames. “It was a total loss,” said Capt. Michaud.

The investigation revealed that someone had removed the car’s gas cap and inserted a piece of twine into the filler tube. It was probably soaked. with an accelerant,” Capt. Michaud said Then the arsonist poured accelerant on the outside of the car — “we’re not sure if it was gasoline at this paint,” Capt. Michaud said —and ignited it.

Firemen arrived and put out the blaze.

The first incident took place sometime between Thursday evening and 3:06 the following morning when police received a call of a possible fire outside one of the buildings on the WCC campus. Upon arrival, police saw flames coming from (Out-side a metal door on the welt side of Erdman Hall.

According to Capt. Michaud,’ someone had placed a piece of cloth which had the odor of a petroleum-based product or some other accelerant at the base of the door anctignited it. There were some burn marks outside the door. There was no. significant damage, but, said Capt. Michaud, “it was an obvious arson attempt.”

At 9:40 Friday morning, an employee of the school called to report a similar fire at the campus center. Someone had fore-. ed accelerant-soaked debris. including s chair and pieces of wood and rags, against a double, rear delivery door of the center. ‘

Although there were scorch marks on the metal doors which had buckled some from the heat, there was no serious damage.

Capt. Michaud said the remains of the fire were almost out, when discovered by the employee. “It was obviously purposely set.” he said.

Grease Fire at Diner.There was another fire in town on Monday afternoon at the American Diner, 179 Nassau Street.

Around 4, a pan to catch grease drippings under a grill caught fire. Two employees tried, unsuccessfully, to extinguish the fire that began to fill the diner with heavy smoke.

A volunteer firemen, who worked across the street, grabbed an extinguisher and was battling the flames as the fire trucks began to arrive. Two employees, Ptl. Bernard Lenhardt and a volunteer firemen were all treated for smoke inhalation at the hospital and released.

No damage but a lot of smoke was police assessment of the fire.

About an hour later, there were reports of smoke pouring from heating ducts at the Princeton YMCA building on Paul Robeson Place. Some 50 people inside were evacuated while fire investigation searched for the origin.

No fire was found and officials believe the alarm may have believe the alarm may have been activated by overheating of the building’s boiler.

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