New Haven’s police and fire departments are investigating a series of external fires on Crown Street that displaced students living in off-campus housing and the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.
AEPi president David Ribot ’17 said he was woken up at 3 a.m. by one of his fraternity brothers, who told him that he could smell smoke downstairs. When they left the house, firefighters were already extinguishing flames on the outside of the house. Fires were also being extinguished on the exterior of 397 Crown St., where members of the swim team live, and 401 Crown St, which currently houses graduate students.
“I would say we have the worst damage, in the sense that there is now a large hole on the front of our house,” Ribot said.
All houses are owned by Pike International, who could not immediately be reached for comment.
A Yale junior who lives in the AEPi house said on the condition of anonymity that officers told him that it appears someone went along the side of three houses, lighting them intentionally.
Ribot could not comment on the information, as this is an ongoing investigation; however, Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell Higgins sent an email telling the campus that the fire may have been intentional.
The fire’s damage did not go beyond the exterior of the house, Ribot said. However, firefighters had to break down part of the front of the house in order to determine how deep the fire was spreading. Higgins’ email, sent shortly after 11 a.m. confirmed that students who live in the affected buildings were not harmed and will be able to return to their buildings later today.
The fires remain under active investigation, and those with information are encouraged to contact the New Haven Police Department.