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Police close fire investigation

This plus the insides box equals 10.5 inches -has

By Alison C. Morgan

Investigators of a Dec. 13 fire set in the offices of the MIT Navy Reserve Offices Training Corps (NROTC) program concluded a joint inquiry last Thursday, but failed to find those responsible for the blaze, according to MIT Campus Police Chief James Olivieri.

The MIT Campus Police, the Cambridge Fire Department Arson Unit and the Naval Investigative Services pooled their efforts in the investigation of that Building 20 fire, Olivieri said in an interview with The Tech.

Robert C. DiIorio, assistant director of the MIT news office, said in the Dec. 14 issue of The Harvard Crimson that several graduate students were returning to their offices next to the NROTC offices at about 12:30 am when they spotted an open door to an NROTC room. Inside, they found desks in three separate offices ablaze. The students, who wished to remain anonymous, then called the fire department and put out the flames with assistance from the firemen.

The fire resulted in no injuries and the offices, which contained personal and administrative files, suffered only minimal property damage. "There were ashes on the desks, as if the blotters were burned, and that's about it," reported a Harvard ROTC participant who wished to remain anonymous. The following day, "business was going on as normal" in the offices, he continued.

Commander Jim Ward, executive officer of Naval Science, told The Tech that repairwork would cost "less than $5000." The fire damage was "superficial," Olivieri added.

The investigators suspect the fire to be the result of arson, largely due to the suspicious presence of an MIT phone directory soaked with an unidentified flammable liquid sitting atop a fourth unburned desk, The Crimson reported.

The investigators interviewed the entire NROTC staff as well as all the available midshipmen enrolled in the NROTC program in connection with the arson incident, Ward said. He requested that anyone with information about the fire contact either Police Chief Olivieri or himself.