Dartmouth College dorm fire blamed on student's hibachi-style grill
Firefighters battle a blaze at Morton Hall on the Dartmouth College campus on Oct. 1, 2016.
HANOVER, N.H. - The New Hampshire Fire Marshal’s Office says an unattended hibachi-style grill used by students sparked a blaze at a Dartmouth College dormitory over the weekend.
The fire broke out shortly after midnight Saturday at Morton Hall. Crews battled the flames for about six hours.
Investigators said Sunday the charcoal grill had been left unattended at the time of the fire.
Officials say all of the dorm’s 300 residents escaped without injuries; but about 70 now need new housing.
CBS Boston reports that two Hanover firefighters sustained minor injuries but were able to keep battling the flames.
The school’s website says charcoal grills are among items not allowed in student dorm rooms.
The investigation continues.
4-alarm fire breaks out at Dartmouth College; dozens displaced
Fire started around midnight in Morton Hall, officials say
UPDATED 8:22 PM EDT Oct 01, 2016
HANOVER, N.H. —The design of a Dartmouth dormitory created a challenge for crews trying to put out a four-alarm fire Saturday morning.
An alarm just after midnight alerted firefighters to the flames at Morton Hall. Students were already evacuating the building when firefighters arrived to discover near-zero visibility on the fourth floor.
The first crew on scene reported fire on the roof, but a 25-foot space under the building's vaulted copper roof made it hard to get the flames under control. It eventually took crews from more than 10 towns in New Hampshire and Vermont to put out the fire. Two firefighters received minor injuries but remain on duty.
Morton Hall, part of a cluster of residential buildings on East Wheelock Street, is uninhabitable right now because of the extensive smoke and water damage. About 71 students live in the building. The Dartmouth College newspaper reports that a meeting Saturday afternoon will reassign the affected students to new housing.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Morton Hall is currently uninhabitable as a result of extensive smoke and water damage caused by a four-alarm fire that started at 12:05 a.m., according to a Hanover Fire Department press release.
The press release did not state the cause or origin of the fire, noting the information will be released when available. The New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Hanover Police Department are currently investigating the fire. Two firefighters who sustained minor injuries remained on duty at the site.
The press release said the fire was difficult to fight because of the height of the building and the “void space construction of the heavy gauge copper roofing material.”
No one was injured in the fire and students were evacuated prior to the arrival of the fire department. The initial firefighters requested first alarm assistance and began an interior fire attack. They conducted a search and rescue operation on the upper two floors, reporting near zero visibility on the fourth floor as a result of thick black smoke and high heat conditions. They reported moderate smoke on the third floor.
As soon as Hanover Fire Chief Martin McMillan arrived, he immediately requested second-alarm assistance.
Several New Hampshire and Vermont fire departments, including Lyme, Lebanon, Enfield, Claremont, Hartford, Norwich, Thetford, Bradford, Windsor and Hartland assisted the Hanover department. The Lyme FAST Squad and Upper Valley Ambulance were on site to assist firefighters. The American Red Cross helped all responding agencies at the scene.
Town of Hanover
48 Lyme Road
Hanover, NH 03755
Telephone: (603) 643-3424
Fax: (603) 643-0741
Date: Saturday – October 1, 2016 Time: 00:05 hrs.
The Hanover Fire Department was dispatched this morning to the Dartmouth College campus for an automatic alarm in a four story masonry dormitory. Morton Hall is located at 15 East Wheelock Street and is one of several buildings that form a cluster of resident halls. The initial fire company officer reported a fire on the roof and requested a first-alarm assignment.
Dartmouth students were evacuating the building prior to the arrival of the Hanover Fire Department. This undergraduate resident hall houses approximately 70 students. Firefighters were able to initiate an interior fire attack and conducted search and rescue operation on the upper two floors. Fire crews reported a moderate smoke on the third floor, and near zero visibility on the fourth floor due to thick black smoke and high heat conditions. Hanover Fire Chief Martin McMillan arrived on-scene an immediately requested a second-alarm assignment based on the reports from the interior fire companies,
the occupancy of the building, and time of day.
This was an extremely difficult and complicated fire to fight due to the height of the building, and the void space construction of the heavy gauge copper roofing material. The design of the building included approximately 25’ vaulted ceilings that prevented the firefighters from exposing the fire that was burning in the roof structure from the interior. A total of four alarms were required to bring this stubborn fire under control.
The Hanover Fire Department was assisted by several New Hampshire and Vermont fire departments. They included Lyme, Lebanon, Enfield, Claremont, Hartford, Norwich, Thetford, Bradford, Windsor and Hartland. The Lyme FAST Squad and Upper Valley Ambulance responded to the College to assist firefighting personnel. The American Red Cross provided support to all responding agencies at the scene.
The building is currently uninhabitable due to extensive smoke and water damage caused by the fire. The fire is currently under investigation by the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Hanover Police Department. Two firefighter sustained minor injuries; both remained on-duty.
Dartmouth College officials are expected to issue a press release regarding the students displaced by this fire. No civilian injuries occurred. Pertinent information regarding the investigation of the cause and origin of the fire will be released when available.
Please contact the Hanover Fire Department if you require additional information
regarding this incident.
Martin W. McMillan EFO
Emergency Management Director
Hanover Fire Department
48 Lyme Road
Hanover, NH 03755
Work: (603) 640-3340
Cell: (585) 755-7696
Fax: (603) 643-0741