House fire near campus results in no serious injuries

by Sam Darcy

No one was seriously injured in a fire in Dinkytown Sunday evening. Fire officials received a call about 7 p.m. that a house was on fire at 417 11th Ave. S.E. The residents were not injured, said 3rd District Battalion Chief Todd White.

It was a small kitchen fire in the second floor apartment. The fire was put out easily but there was smoke damage, White said.

Katie Hamilton lived in the apartment with two friends. The journalism junior said she didn’t know what caused the fire, but she did say she had smoked from a hookah earlier in the day.

“We did have a hookah, like most houses on campus, but it is speculation to say the hookah caused the fire,” she said.

Hamilton said two of the roommates were grocery shopping when a neighbor called to tell her of the fire.

“Thank God they called the fire department right away,” she said.

Srijon Chowdhury, a University sophomore who lives in the first-floor apartment, said he was cooking spaghetti when he saw smoke coming from the ceiling. He said he didn’t realize it was a big deal until someone outside yelled that the house was on fire and he should get out.

He and roommates Kane McDermott and Gordon Westmont grabbed their valuables, turned off their stove and left the building.

Joseph Goss, a friend of the women who lived in the apartment, said they called him over for emotional support. The University junior said he looked at the apartment after firefighters left and there was soot on everything.

“It was bad,” he said. “There was some salvageable stuff, but everything looks pretty bad.”

Hamilton said the kitchen was “completely gone,” though the fire didn’t spread to other apartments in the house. She and her roommates, however, have to move out.

“We’re homeless and living out of shopping carts at Joe Goss’ house,” she said. “It’s hard to explain what’s going on right now. I moved in here a week ago and now I need to do it again.”

Only one of the three women had renter’s insurance, Hamilton said, emphasizing that this was a good reminder for others to get it.

“I would really like some good to come out of this article,” she said. “It’s honestly horrific. There’s been a lot of fires on campus and this is slightly ridiculous.”

Fire officials didn’t name a cause for the fire, but said details would be available Monday morning.

“Everyone’s fine, so I guess that’s the biggest concern,” Goss said.

Charley Bruce, Jim Hammerand, Heather Mueller and C.J. Spang contributed to this report.