Multiple Fires At Denison University Concern Officials, Worry Students


UPDATED: Friday October 26, 2012 5:58 PM

Granville Township fire officials said arsonists have set a handful of fires on the Denison University campus this school year.

The latest was at a dorm room in a residence hall, and officials said it put the lives of 84 women who live there at risk.

“All of the set fires to this point have been outside buildings, so this takes us to a new level that we've had an intentional fire set inside a dormitory,” said Granville Fire Chief Jeff Hussey.

Witnesses report seeing three to four men, all wearing masks, enter the all-women dorm through a back door and placing some kind of device in a room on the second floor.

"We had a fire that was in an area with a number of combustibles nearby, and it was a growing fire that in a matter of minutes would have been a major fire,” added Hussey.

Fire officials said the disguise and method the men used matches the description of similar acts which they trace back to an underground student group operating on campus.

The secret society has apparently been active on Denison University's campus for more than 100 years.

It’s commonly known for playing pranks on other students, but fire officials are now concerned those pranks may have escalated, putting students' lives at risk.

"The college is cooperating with local authorities, as well as conducting its own investigation. Our priority, as always, is the safety and welfare of our students, faculty and staff,” said a statement from Denison University.

Whatever the motive, fire officials say it rises above hi jinks on a college campus - they say it's criminal.

Firefighters said the women living in the suite were in other rooms when the suspects set the fire, and no one was hurt.

Some damage was caused to their possessions, but none to the room itself.

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