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New House Fire Cause Unknown

By Brian Rosenberg
Editor in Chief

Neither a computer nor a heater caused the Sept. 29 fire that destroyed Room 507 of New House I, according to a Safety Office report. The fire was "most likely electrical in nature," but the exact cause of the blaze is undetermined, said Walter G. Diaz, a safety officer.

"We don't have the evidence to make a definite conclusion, because critical pieces of evidence got thrown out or otherwise damaged in the course of putting out the fire," he said. Diaz noted, however, that "two suspects" for the cause of the fire are a portable box-type fan and a halogen light.

Diaz said that he and a fire inspector from the firm of William Hertow and Associates wrote the report. MIT's insurance company hired Hertow to investigate the blaze, Diaz said.

Room repairs to finish soon

Dale L. LeFebvre '93, who lived in Room 507 when the fire occurred, will return there this semester, according to Christopher Nolan, an assistant maintenance manager in the housing office. LeFebvre "should be able to move back in within two or three weeks," he said.

"All the repairs are cosmetic -- nothing structural was damaged. We're repainting the walls in the room and the hallway, and replacing the carpet in the hallway," he said. Nolan added that he would not know the cost of the repairs "until the bills come in."

LeFebvre said the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs is currently investigating a decision on whether MIT's insurance company will reimburse him for the cost of personal possessions that were destroyed in the fire.

LeFebvre added that Chocolate City, of which Room 507 is a part, is planning to hold a party to raise money for him.