While students retrieve their belongings, an investigation is underway into what caused a fire Saturday night that damaged a SUNY Potsdam dormitory and left 62 people displaced overnight.
POTSDAM -- While students retrieve their belongings, an investigation is underway into what caused a fire Saturday night that damaged a SUNY Potsdam dormitory and left 62 people displaced overnight.
“The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing, with University Police collaborating with State Fire Investigators, as well as federal, state, and local law enforcement partners,” SUNY Potsdam Dean of Students Eric Duchscherer said in an email.
The investigation will be overseen by the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control. The Potsdam Fire Department managed the scene and emergency response.
Four fire trucks plus emergency vehicles responded about 6:28 p.m. Saturday, according to student Zachariah Morehouse, who lives in Van Housen. Read our earlier story here.
Some students will be allowed to move back into the building today, while others will need to continue with temporary housing until permanent housing changes are made.
“Thankfully, with the help of five local fire departments, the fire was extinguished quickly and no injuries have been reported,” said SUNY Potsdam President Suzanne R. Smith, Ph.D.
All pets in the building were evacuated safely.
“We are grateful for the first responders who worked so hard through the night to get the blaze extinguished and keep our campus safe,” Smith said. “We understand that this has been a stressful time for our students, and it's crucial that we come together as a community to support one another. Our campus has a strong tradition of solidarity during times of challenge, and I encourage each of you to extend your support to those who may be affected.”
The fire department has released the building back to the campus; and college staff are working to clean the affected areas.
Second floor residents will be allowed to return to their rooms after 2 p.m. today and may remain there, officials said.
For residents of rooms 316 – 346, they can return to their rooms after 2 p.m., but will not be able to stay there tonight and will continue residing in temporary housing.
Thorough cleaning is required for that area, Duchscherer said.
Students in those rooms have the option to move to another room on campus for the rest of the semester if they choose to.
For residents of rooms 301-315, they may go to their rooms to gather their belongings, but will need to be escorted by campus staff, as this area has been locked off from the rest of the building. Duchscherer said.
Staff will be present on that section of the floor starting at 2 p.m.
It is unlikely that students who lived there will return to live in this space this spring, Duchscherer said.
Residence Life will work with students on a new room assignment for the rest of the semester.
Any Van Housen resident still in need of a temporary room assignment should contact Residence Life at firstname.lastname@example.org.