Zeta Psi house caught fire during ritual

Aquene Kimmel, Staff Reporter

The Zeta Psi fraternity house caught fire over the weekend, causing some damage to the building but no major injuries.

The fire alarm in the Zeta Psi house on the south side of campus sounded just before 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12. Case Western Reserve University Police and firefighters arrived soon thereafter, and two students were admitted to the University Hospitals Emergency Room after reporting problems breathing. They were then released later that evening, according to a university spokesperson.

“The building was evacuated, and the fire was quickly extinguished thanks to the support of the local fire department,” said Max Anderson, the alumnus chapter consultant for Zeta Psi.

The entire third floor sustained smoke damage, and there was fire and smoke damage to the areas closest to the fire, in the hallway outside rooms 302 and 303, says the university spokesperson. According to the campus Fire Log entry for this fire, it took place primarily in the third floor bathroom. The chapter will be billed for repairs to the building, and students in affected rooms have been relocated within the building.

The Housing and Maintenance Departments have been working in the aftermath of the fire to investigate the cause, relocate students, repair the building and submit information for insurance claims.

While the exact cause has not yet been determined, both the university spokesperson and Anderson suggested that it may have involved a candle. In the Fire Log entry for this fire, the cause is listed as “ritual being performed.”

The Zeta Psi house is university-owned, and the university spokesperson clarified that candles are forbidden in Greek houses as well as residence halls. The university is “reviewing the incident” to determine whether there was any policy violation.

“Spirits are good, but each member now has a greater appreciation for how quickly situations can escalate and how important it is to be supported by our community’s life safety professionals and the university administration,” said Anderson.

This was the third fire reported on campus this month, with the other two being caused by a computer power cord and a cigarette butt in a trash can, respectively.