Police investigate Douglas Hall fires

By R. Scott Lohman

Two recent fires in Douglas Hall have sparked the interest of the hall staff, the DeKalb Fire Department, the University Police and the students.

Douglas Hall Director Linda Koschoreck said the two fires both occurred this weekend. One fire was at about 8:30 p.m. on Friday in an A-wing library study room. The carpet and curtains were damaged in that room, she said.

The other fire was at about 2 a.m. on Sunday in a women’s restroom of the C-wing basement, Koschoreck said. The fire was in a garbage can of the restroom, she said.

The senior staff of Douglas Hall put out both fires, she said.

Koschoreck also said the resident assistants in the hall recently have talked with the fire department about fire safety.

The Douglas Hall council and other in-hall committees are stressing that the fires are occurring in that hall and it is necessary that students evacuate the building when the fire alarm sounds, Koschoreck said.

She also said there now is a $250 reward for information leading to an arrest or conviction.

The UPs are investigating the fires, UP Sgt. Ralph Taylor said. Taylor said it sounds as if the fires are being purposely set. He said that if the fires are arson, they would be considered as aggravated arson.

Aggravated arson is when a person knowingly damages, by fire or explosion, someone’s real or personal property at a value of $150 or more and there is one or more people in the building, Taylor said. Aggravated arson also is committed if a victim of the fire receives great bodily harm which causes a permanent disability or disfigurement, he said. He also said that if a firefighter or police officer is intentionally hurt, aggravated arson is constituted.

Taylor said aggravated arson is a Class-X felony which carries a penalty of six to 30 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 or more.

He said he feels students at Douglas Hall are becoming more in tune to the fact that fires are occurring there.

There are no suspects at this time, he said.

Today at 9 a.m. the Douglas Hall housing staff, a representative from the fire department and UPs will meet to determine a basic course of action if another fire occurs in the hall.