Fire deemed an accident

The fire in a Branford College suite last Thursday was an accident, New Haven fire marshal Joseph Cappucci said Tuesday, and the Fire Department will not pursue legal action against the students involved. Branford Master Steven Smith said any potential disciplinary decisions will be handled by the Executive Committee.

Cappucci attributed the brief blaze to a “carelessly discarded cigarette.” The Yale College Undergraduate Regulations ban smoking in suites. But until Tuesday, a policy on Yale Council of Masters Web site stated that smoking was allowed in an upperclassmen suite if all residents agreed to permit it. Yale College Dean Mary Miller said the posted policy was out of date and did not match Yale College regulations or a 2003 Connecticut statute prohibiting smoking in dormitories.

On Thursday, the New Haven Fire Department and the Yale Office of Environmental Health and Safety officials surveyed damage to the site. Smith said University administrators — not Branford — will decide whether the students will have to pay for the repairs.

Although firefighters put out the fire within 15 minutes, the students living in the affected suite stayed in a nearby suite until they were allowed to move back into their own Monday afternoon, Smith said by phone Tuesday night.

When asked how similar situations could be prevented in the future, Smith said he thinks “people should be more careful and a little more considerate.”

Jason Kappa ’11, a resident of the suite, declined to comment on the fire.

“We’re trying to just move on from this,” Kappa said.

Ezra Baraban ’11, another resident of the suite, hung up when asked about his response to the fire marshal’s conclusion. The other two students living in the suite did not respond to requests for comment.

Cappucci said he had urged Branford Dean Daniel Tauss not to “throw out” the student responsible.

“My concern, being a parent of a student, is I’d hate to see someone thrown out for a simple, stupid mistake,” Cappucci said. “Everyone’s made one. The dean seemed to agree with me and said the student had been very up-front about the whole thing.”

Tauss said in an e-mail Tuesday that Yale’s disciplinary decisions are confidential.

Colin Ross contributed reporting.

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