Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hampshire College Fire

 Fire started on front porch deck and climbed strait up

A brisk but peaceful New England Sunday suddenly became energetic when a box alarm alerted Amherst Fire Department to a structure fire at Greenwich Dorm,  Hampshire College around 4:13 PM.

 Smoke screen after water hit fire

First reports indicated furniture on the porch had ignited and spread to the building, but later, after the fire was extinguished, a student told Hampshire College Police he had dried a sweater in a microwave oven.

Engine 2, the Quint, arrives and starts extending her 75 foot ladder

The sweater caught fire, was doused with water and placed outside, thinking the fire was safely out.  It wasn't. 


 Quint extended ladder to second floor window

Firefighters ventilate above where the fire started


One police officer was transported to Cooley Dickinson Hospital by Northampton FD (mutual aid) as a precautionary measure after he suffered smoke inhalation going through the building to make sure everyone was safely out.  Give that man a medal.

And a warm thanks to the men and women of AFD ... just doing their public safety job:  keeping The Beast at bay.

 Students and staff of Hampshire College watch from a safe distance

Sorry, my iPhone doesn't do sound anymore
.


17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I believe Hampshire College has a police dept not a security force.. is that correct?

Larry Kelley said...

Good point. Corrected. (He still deserves a medal.)

Dr. Ed said...

Drying a sweater in a microwave oven?!?!?

R I G H T ... ;) ;) ;)

Unless AFD found a microwave with fire damage INSIDE it, I'm having a really hard time believing this one....

First, wool & cotton really don't burn that well, and the synthetics are supposed to be treated with stuff to make them not burn well either. Second, exactly what is going to absorb the microwaves after all the water (a bent molecule) is evaporated? Clothing really doesn't absorb microwaves, that's why the so-called "naked body scanners" work -- the clothing is transparent to microwaves which aren't at the same frequency but even still...

Do I believe that a Hampshire student would do something as stupid as this -- absolutely, although I am having trouble with the bit about putting it on a couch and pouring water on it part. Not a couch that you intend to be sitting on in the future...

But I'm thinking that there might have been a slightly different cause to this fire -- somehow, I'm thinking either a candle or cigarette might be involved here.

Just sayin.....

And I'm also a bit troubled about the smoke inhalation issue -- unless this was a really rapidly spreading fire, you'd think that random smoke detectors would have been tripping LONG before enough smoke built up anywhere inside there that it became a breathing issue. You'd think...

You gotta wonder if those smoke detectors were working properly, or if they'd been covered over with Saran Wrap as was the case in a certain North Amherst fraternity house that burned some years back.

Just sayin....

Dr. Ed said...

Fire started on front deck and climbed strait up

Looking only at your pictures, I'm having trouble believing that.

Look at the first one -- where are the actual flames -- roof at gutters, where it has burnt through at one point. I definitely do not see any burn mark up the side, although that might be concealed in the shadow -- but I don't see any flames in the first picture.

It might have gone up inside the wall, but that would be a different kind of fire

This is where we definitely need to wait for the experts to officially say what caused ths because I'm going to toss out an entirely different possibility -- something set the leaves in the gutter on fire.

Fireworks have been known to do such things....

I'm just sayin.....

Anonymous said...

Your an idiot.. (Ed)

Anonymous said...

Masslive says unknown cause
http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/10/hampshire_college_residential.html#incart_river_default

Anonymous said...

This is the Greenwich Mod, which is one of the most disgusting mods on campus. There's mold, water damage and rats, cockroaches and fungus growing under the rugs. I'm not surprised the smoke detectors don't work.

Dr. Ed said...

Your an idiot.. (Ed)

I at least know the difference between "your" and "you're" -- which someone else apparently doesn't.

But Firetruck You --- I'm going to have enough faith in the AFD to wait until they (officially) say what the cause of this fire was -- and if they (who were there) say it was someone microwaving a sweater, as hard as I find that to believe, I'll accept the fact that this probably is what happened.

Notwithstanding that -- and the official story from the school is that they don't know the cause -- I'm more inclined to believe a candle, cigarette (tobacco or pot), or misadventure with fireworks.

And your mother wears Army boots. I can trade sophomoric insults as well as anyone else. And it is DOCTOR Ed -- I have a piece of paper with important people's names on it saying so. OK?

Anonymous said...

Can't clarify if there's any truth to the sweater story, but the story is that the fire did NOT start while the sweater was in the microwave. The mental giant reportedly microwaved his sweater some hours beforehand, noticed embers on it, took it outside and doused it, then, for some reason, left it in a plastic bin on the porch, thinking it was entirely put out. So goes the story, anyway.

In any case, the fire did in fact, start on the porch, it's just that these photos don't show the lovely burn scar going straight up the exterior wall. The gutter was just last to be extinguished because of the logistical difficulties in getting up on the roof, which is why you only see flames there in the pictures.

Finally, the smoke detectors worked just fine. The officer who was treated for smoke inhalation wasn't incapacitated at all, but was coughing/on the verge of vomiting at the scene. He was taken to the hospital mostly as a precaution. Does that satisfy the doctor?

Anonymous said...

Just in case it isn't too obvious for the good doctor, I'll also add that smoke detectors, when activated, do not actually prevent smoke from thickening. Nor does their activation mean that everyone is out of the building, which is what the officer was trying to make sure of.

Anonymous said...

Pay no attention to Ed, and he will go away. Remember ignore him, ignore him. It will work.

Anonymous said...

And once again we have evidence that a piece of paper doesn't prove intelligence or maturity. And facts matter!

Walter Graff said...

That is a very white looking fire department. Hamshire college might want to request more diversity.

Anonymous said...

Not only should people ignore what Ed says - we should all just stop reading what he says. I usually don't read his drivel but I did this time because of the comments about it. Wow - what totally meaningless drivel from the guy. Most of it just guesses on his part as to what happened...he really has no clue what actually happened.
So, everyone, stop wasting your time even reading his nonsense - then you will not be tempted to respond to it.

Dr. Ed said...

In any case, the fire did in fact, start on the porch, it's just that these photos don't show the lovely burn scar going straight up the exterior wall.

1: Note above how I included the possibility that the burn marks were concealed by shadow -- which is conceded above. Note that I clearly "looking only at" the posted pictures...

2: The Official AFD report mentions that the fire extended not only up the side of the building but "through an open second floor window spreading the fire to the second floor."

I kinda think this was a relevant detail....

3: The same AFD document merely states "smouldering materials": and makes no mention of microwaved sweater.

QED I wasn't wrong -- if one carefully reads what I wrote, with the qualifications I included, there isn't anything contradicted by AFD's press release.

Larry's report of the fire "going strait (sic.) up" wasn't/isn't accurate, it went in through the window and THEN up into the roof where it was "burning behind the soffits."

The gutter was just last to be extinguished because of the logistical difficulties in getting up on the roof

I also imagine that there were some solid "fire science" reasons for progressing in the 1-2-3 approach described in the AFD release.

Finally, the smoke detectors worked just fine.... I'll also add that smoke detectors, when activated, do not actually prevent smoke from thickening.

I seem to remember people with "Fire" in their titles telling me things about ratings of fire doors and the importance thereof and something about how the real purpose was to slow the spread of smoke. How yes, they will slow the "chimney effect" of superheated gases but that the really important thing is slowing the spread of smoke to facilitate occupant escape.

In other words, while the above snarky comment about smoke thickening is accurate, it's also accurate that properly functioning fire doors tend to counteract the effect, do they not? Do not properly functioning fire doors tend to contain the thick smoke to where the fire actually is, and preclude it's spread throughout the entirety of the building?

(Someone with a name quite similar to mine used to make quite a fuss about fire doors in certain wood-framed multi-unit buildings in South Amherst, only one of which has a sprinkler system.)

And while we're at it, why is no one mentioning the effectiveness of automated sprinkler systems? AFD has had two fires largely extinguished by the sprinkler systems (Golden Booty & here) while (I presume) the quite massive fire in Hadley likely wouldn't have been what it became had there been sprinklers.

Anonymous said...

That is a very white looking fire department. Hamshire college might want to request more diversity.

Better yet, kick them off campus for being "too white" and let the fire burn instead...

Dervine7 said...

I'm a recent Hampshire graduate who attended Hampshire Halloween and so saw the events take place on the FB page. The media coverage of this has completely contradicted my (by no means authoritative) observations of what happened. This is what I saw and my interpretation of what happened.

The dispute began with a comment from a student about Hampshire hiring a white afrofunk band. Whether or not this statement was correct and whether or not one agrees with the concerns it expressed, it was not directed at the band itself, but at the way that Hampshire hires bands. This is a conversation that has been going on within Hampshire for years.

I did not observe the events that followed, but apparently there was a troll who was posting overtly racist comments (including cartoons of a heavily caricatured black person) which were not deleted by the administrators of the page, while comments by Hampshire students expressing concern about this and about the hiring of the band were deleted. While the band cannot be held responsible for comments made by others, this was part of the context for the events that followed. Furthermore, these and other harassing comments were being made by supporters of the band. While once again Shokazoba can not be held responsible for the actions of their fans, as far as I saw the band never made any attempt to disavow these comments.

At this point a Shokazoba member, Jason Moses, made a comment attempting to defend the band's reputation. A student politely made clear that the dispute was not directed at the band itself and that it would be in their best interest to stay out of the discussion. Jason Moses continued to comment, and became increasingly aggressive, personally targeting students. Furthermore, he was not responsive to the student's concerns and made several racially insensitive remarks. As before, there was also a contingent of supporters of the band who harassed students. While it is true that both sides escalated the conflict, it was Jason Moses's decision to comment and then continue commenting that blew up what would have otherwise been an internal argument and caused the band and the community to be pitted against each other.

At this point the event page was deleted and a community dialogue was set up, with the end result being that the performance was cancelled. I did not attend the dialogue, so I do not know the specifics of their discussion. However, everyone involved who I have talked to agrees that the performance was not cancelled due to the race of the band, but due to their behavior (and the behavior of their supporters) on the event page.

Since this happened there has been a deliberate effort on the part of Shokazoba to contact news agencies and spread the story that Hampshire fired them for being "too white." (This can be seen on their FB page.)

I am neither here nor there on whether the racial makeup of the band is an issue or on issues of cultural appropriation in general. My own intuitions tend to be that anyone can play whatever music they want, although one also has to keep in mind the fact that, historically, blacks have been forced out of music styles they originated by white artists (as happened in rock n roll). But it is my opinion that, all these issues aside, Shokazoba acted in a highly unprofessional manner in the way they chose to engage with students.