Fire breaks out in Science Hill home



A two-alarm fire did extensive damage to graduate student housing on Science Hill Tuesday afternoon, leaving several University students homeless, Yale Fire Marshal Michael Johns said.

At 3:45 p.m., the New Haven Fire Department received a report of a fire at 360 Edwards Street, NHPD communications officials said. The fire did severe damage to the third floor, attic and roof of the house, but firefighters believe the home can be rehabilitated, Johns said.

The fire is believed to have originated inside a wall on the third floor, Johns said. One of the graduate students living in the home noticed smoke coming out of the wall and contacted police. By the time firefighters and University Police arrived, thick smoke was coming from the attic, he said.

“We believe preliminary investigation is looking more and more like electrical [fire] to us, possibly having to do with a hot water heater,” Johns said.

Johns said he and the city fire marshal are investigating the blaze.

New Haven Fire Chief Patrick Ryan said firefighters are assessing whether the roof can be saved or if it will have to be removed and replaced. Large burnt patches were visible on the roof of the house Tuesday.

The house is near offices of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and other University properties, but Ryan said there was never a threat to neighboring buildings. One building next door to the house was evacuated as a precaution, Johns said.

The only injury from the fire occurred when a firefighter slipped on a patch of ice outside of the house and hit his head, Johns said. He was not seriously injured but was taken to a hospital. The cold temperature was the worst obstacle to fighting the fire, Johns said.

Johns said the graduate students living in the house will be put up in a hotel and will hopefully be able to retrieve some of their belongings today.

Portions of Prospect and Edwards Streets were closed off for hours as more than a half-dozen fire engines and several dozen firefighters battled the blaze. University Police were also on hand, directing traffic and keeping passersby away from the house.

The closed streets snarled traffic on Science Hill for several hours. Diverted cars were backed up as far as the intersection of Prospect and Tower Parkway.

New Haven firefighters were called to a minor fire in the Yale School of Drama early Tuesday afternoon. The fire was started by a student using a grinding wheel, Johns said. The student was taking all of the proper safety procedures for using the wheel, Johns said, but still managed to ignite a small fire.

Firefighters evacuated the building and the fire was quickly extinguished.

Firefighters temporarily closed down a portion of York Street and the intersection of York and Chapel Streets.

Tuesday evening, firefighters were called to Gourmet Heaven on Broadway on suspicion of another fire. An employee of ORL, a tenant on the second floor of the building, saw smoke and called the fire department, ORL owner Bob Owens said.

“It seems like it might just be smoke from exhaust or something,” Owens said.

New Haven Fire Chief Bob Gilhuly said there was no evidence of fire and that the department was still investigating.

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