House fire leaves students displaced
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 21:10
On Saturday, Oct. 12, an unknown source started a fire in Tau Kappa Epsilon’s fraternity house on 91 Willington Hill Rd. that damaged the house beyond repair, resident Nick Wytas said.
Four members of the UConn skydiving club were the first responders, said one of the responders, Leah Murphy.
No one was injured or inside the house at the time, but the four residents, Mark Steanczyk, Stephan Chassagnoux, Zach Carriker – all in their 7th semester, and Wytas – in his 5th semester lost textbooks, computers and clothes.
The Mansfield Fire Department was unable to comment at the time.
The skydiving students – Murphy, Doug Hendrix, Andrew Stipicevic, all in their 5th semester, and graduate student Wiley Skewes, were coming back from a practice at an indoor tunnel in New Hampshire when Hendrix noticed the burning house from the backseat of the car.
Murphy said he screamed, “stop,” and Skewes jumped out of the car before the vehicle had come to a full stop, and ran to the front door. No one was at the scene and the neighbors had not seemed to notice yet, Murphy said. Hendrix called 911 while still in the car.
While waiting for fire trucks to arrive the students devised a plan to find anyone that was in the house. Skewes went in the front door while Murphy watched for him, and Stipicevic went in the backdoor and Hendrix watched for him. When Skewes and Stipicevic came out they assumed no one was in the house, Murphy said.
Murphy estimated that the two who entered the house were inside for two minutes, in which time they looked for people on the first floor and in the basement. The doors were unlocked and lights were on inside of the house, said Murphy.
The volunteer firefighters arrived at the scene five minutes later, Murphy estimated, and did not go inside because at that point the second floor was starting to fall apart, she said. After, they waited for a water truck to arrive, and Murphy estimated the fire was put out 20 minutes later.
The residents of the house learned of the fire when they returned to their house later that night, said Wytas. He said there will be an investigation into the cause of the fire, but they expect that it was electrical related.
UConn has relocated the residents to Shippee Hall and Northwood Apartments.