Monday, October 14, 2013

Drake Hall Fire Investigation Is Closed, by Eric Schnell

The Drake Hall Fire that relocated 271 students to alternative housing in February of 2012 is closed a year and half later.

“No active investigation is underway,” says UW-L Police Chief Scott Rohde. “However this case can be re-opened if sufficient evidence is presented.”

UW-L police department interviewed hundreds of students and Drake Hall residents. The Police department even administered a polygraph exam, which one student passed. 

The fire was investigated by arson specialists and was determined to have human involvement. It is not known if the fire was lit intentionally. Investigators found no sufficient evidence describing to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty that the fire was truly arson. A couch in the basement was the fuel for the fire, but it is still unknown how it was ignited.

The blaze only damaged the basement of the hall directly.  However significant smoke damage travelled through the building’s ventilation system, causing the hall to remain closed for the semester. Under contract, Servpro fire and water restoration deep-cleaned the building, making it safe for students.

Today Drake Hall has new residents. Despite not having a sprinkler system, Drake Hall is very safe.  “The smoke detectors are very sensitive,” says Chief Rohde. “We have already had several calls due to pizzas setting off the alarms.”

For any information regarding the fire, contact the UW-L police department at 608-789-9000. Anyone can remain anonymous, and a reward still exists.