‘Extremely poor judgment’ caused Towers fire

Photo by Seth Culp-Ressler. Firetrucks surround the back of Towers dorm Sunday night after a fire broke out on the 9th floor.

By The Duquesne Duke staff

UPDATE: 1/25/16 1:40 p.m.

A Duquesne crime alert sent to all students Monday afternoon described the cause of Sunday night’s Towers dorm fire as “extremely poor judgment” by a student.

According to Duquesne police,  a resident student in the Towers laundry area was “experimenting” to see what would happen if he ignited a piece of dryer lint. The student threw the burning lint into a small garbage can — which also ignited — and placed the can outside of the building on a fire escape so nothing else would catch fire.

Duquesne spokeswoman Bridget Fare said the student’s actions violate Duquesne’s student code, and that he could be subject to criminal charges. The incident is still under investigation.


A three-alarm fire in Towers dorm temporarily displaced students from two floors Sunday night.

Residents were evacuated from the building shortly after 7:30 p.m. after a fire started on the 9th floor of the building’s C-side, according to Duquesne residence life officials.

No one was injured in the fire, which started in a garbage can in a stairwell and was immediately extinguished, a firefighter on scene said.

Station 4 Deputy Fire Chief Michael Mullen said the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but that the burning trash can was moved by a resident from the interior of the building to the external stairway on the 9th floor.

“We don’t know if there is any malicious intent,” Mullen said.

A fire investigator is currently interviewing the resident who moved the trash can, according to Mullen.

Because the burning trash can was in an exterior staircase, the building’s sprinkler system did not activate and there was no water damage, Mullen said.

Residents on floors unaffected by the fire were permitted to reenter the building around 8:20 p.m.

Senior Vincent McGovern, who lives on the 9A wing, said he hopes to be able to go back to his room soon.

“You could kind of see [the fire] from the stairwell but then after 10 minutes or so you could see [the fire] was out,” McGovern said.

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