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Motorcycle Fire Forces Evacuation of Burton House

By Brian Rosenberg
Editor in Chief

A student's motorcycle parked underneath the Burton side of Burton-Conner House caught fire early Wednesday morning, forcing the evacuation of the building. One student received minor burns as a result of the incident, Campus Police reported.

Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin would not release the name of either student and would not discuss the cause of the fire, saying the case was "still under investigation."

The dormitory's fire alarm went off at about 2 a.m. Wednesday, said architecture professor William L. Porter, Burton's faculty resident. Porter said the building remained evacuated for about one hour.

The motorcycle was parked illegally underneath a wooden shed next to a Burton fire door, Porter said. "The fire damaged the shed roof and windows, as well as the fire door. Some smoke got in the stairwell, which posed a problem for evacuating students," Porter said. He added that several windows in the vicinity had cracked, though he was not sure if there was an explosion.

Glavin would not comment on whether any action would be taken against the motorcycle's owner.

"The Campus Police and the Cambridge police and fire departments were all marvelous," Porter said. "[The fire] demonstrated the effectiveness of all our support services, at both the city and Institute levels."

Porter said the evacuation was handled well, but that Burton tutors and housemasters will hold a meeting to discuss fire procedures "to make sure the next fire is handled even better."

Kara B. Altshuler G, a floor tutor on the fifth floor of Conner, said the fire demonstrated the need for tutors to have passkeys to all the suites. "Many residents left doors open within their suites, which is a very dangerous situation. A student could just close the door and get stuck in there, or someone could close the outside door and steal from the rooms within the suite," she said.

Altshuler also noted the need for fire marshals, students responsible for making sure everyone on the floor is outside. She said last year's fire marshal had graduated, and that new marshals would be chosen soon.