Cigarette disposal causes fire in Parsons House

A fire broke out at Parsons House on Friday afternoon as a result of improper disposal of smoking materials.
A fire broke out at Parsons House on Friday afternoon as a result of improper disposal of smoking materials. Arjun Kakkar/Photo Editor

On Friday afternoon, firefighters extinguished a conflagration at Parsons House. No one was injured in the fire.
A student taking a shower in Parsons House noticed that smoke and a burning odor were coming through the floorboards. She called Campus Safety and Security (Security, which told her to set off the fire alarm and evacuate the building, which she did. There were about three other students in the house, who also evacuated the building. After talking to the student, Security called the Willliamstown Fire Department (WFD).
WFD received the call at 2:11 p.m. and dispatched eight firemen, including Jack Hoover ’15, who joined WFD as a first-year. The firemen brought two engines and one tower truck to the scene of the fire.
Director of Security Dave Boyer informed the firemen that the source of the fire was on the exterior wall in the front of the building, where a slow-smoldering cigarette had caused the building to catch fire. Hundreds of cigarette butts were also found in the location where the fire started.
Firemen cut a hole into the wall to gain access to its interior to determine if the fire had extended up the interior of the wall up to the attic. They determined the fire had not extended, so they were able to control the fire at the base of the wall. It took about 10 to 15 minutes to control the fire, according to WFD Chief Craig Pedercini.
The cigarette burned a cavity the size of a golf ball into the wall, which is now covered with plywood.
“We’ve had fires on campus from careless disposal of cigarettes before,” said Pedercini.
The College has a policy that there should not be smoking within 25 feet of buildings. One of the reasons for this policy is to prevent building fires.
“The Fire Department would like to see students be a little more careful with the disposal of their cigarettes, because as they can see, it does not take much to get something burning,” said Pedercini.