Student faces aggravated arson charges following Stevenson residence hall fire

By Northern Star Staff

DeKALB — A student is being accused of aggravated arson following a fire 5 a.m. Friday at Stevenson residence hall.

Police say Paul Collins intentionally set the fire in an attempt to cover up the smell of marijuana. He is being charged with aggravated arson, resisting a police officer, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and tampering with a fire system. 

The fire was set on the fifth floor of the residence hall in Collins’ room. Senior corporate communication major Caitlin Ryan, who is Collins’ neighbor, said residents were asked to wait in another building until roughly 7:15 a.m. when the building was cleared for reentry.

“You could smell something burning in the hallway, and we thought ‘oh shoot this is a real fire,'” Ryan said. “The smell kind of lingered in the hall all day.”

Despite being legalized in January in Illinois, possession of marijuana remains illegal on campus. 

Sentences for aggravated arson are six years or up to 30 years of jail time and $25,000 in fines.   

The Northern Star will update as more information becomes available.