Fire at UWisconsin destroys fraternity house

Firefighters battle a major fire Tuesday May 13, 2008, at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house in Madison, Wis. The fire left about two dozen University of Wisconsin-Madison, students without their belongings in the midst of final exams. Steve Apps, The Associated Press (Wisconsin State Journal)

AP

Firefighters battle a major fire Tuesday May 13, 2008, at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house in Madison, Wis. The fire left about two dozen University of Wisconsin-Madison, students without their belongings in the midst of final exams. Steve Apps, The Associated Press (Wisconsin State Journal)

By Tom Schalmo

A raging fire at a Langdon Street fraternity house left one firefighter injured and the house destroyed Monday night, though no residents were hurt.

The fire reportedly caught near the base of the Sigma Phi Epsilon house on 237 Langdon St. around 11:30 p.m. and eventually engulfed much of the third floor.

University of Wisconsin Fire Departments pokesperson Bernadette Galvez said a firefighter suffered non-life threatening injuries and has been transported to the UW Hospital. It is unclear how he was injured, she added.

Galvez said the house is destroyed, but there appeared to be no damage to surrounding buildings.Only the two adjacent buildings were evacuated.

A police officer who saw the fire while on patrol notified MFD of the blaze at 11:41 a.m.

Neighbors gathered outside to try and figure out what was going on, and a Madison Metro bus arrived on the scene to hold displaced fraternity members.

Authorities would not disclose a cause but said the 25 residents made it out of the house safely.

According to Madison Fire Department radio feeds, the fire was under control at 2 a.m. and remained mainly on the third floor.

Ryan Sugden, vice president of the Sigma Phi Epsilon alumni board, said there were 25 people in the house at the time the fire started, and they are all safe. Most of the possessions of the members are gone, headed.

UW has given SigEp members $500 crisis loans to take care of immediate needs.

Sugden called the support of the Offices of the Dean of Students “incredible,” and added half of the frat members have finals Wednesday and have contacted their professors.

According to a SigEp member,a cigarette in a dumpster caused the fire. Another SigEp member confirmed the fire started at the ground level and then erupted up to upper floors.

A UW senior and member of the fraternity said the roof of the building collapsed.

Ald. Eli Judge, District 8, said places to sleep have been found for all the fraternity members.

Firefighters cannot go inside and have to fight the fire from outside.

Galvez said Madison water utility provided extra pressure to aid in the firefighting, but no additional resources are being brought in. Fourteen rigs and 48 personnel were at the scene fighting the fire, she added.

The American Red Cross also arrived on the scene.

The intersection of State and Gilman streets has been flooded as a result of firefighters’ efforts to stop the blaze.

The same house burned in 1999 as well, causing $500,000 in damage.

The fraternity plans to have updates on the situation at sigepwisconsin.org.

Pedro Oliveira Jr., Kevin Bargnes and Carl Jaeger contributed to this report