Fire rips through Phoenix co-op
City officials still are putting the pieces together after a Wednesday morning fire at Phoenix cooperative house destroyed at least four rooms and temporarily displaced all of 29 its residents.
Authorities responded to the location at 239 Oakhill Ave. at about 3:00 a.m. Wednesday. The fire started on the roof of the building’s second floor and spread to surrounding rooms, according to a press release from Student Housing Cooperative.
Phoenix is the largest house in the Student Housing Cooperative.
The Student Housing Cooperative features houses across East Lansing and functions as a non-profit organization.
East Lansing Fire Inspector Don Carter said the flames were extinguished by 4 a.m., and said the fire was “pretty easy” for first responders to control. He said all of the building’s occupants made it out of the house before firefighters arrived, and no one was injured.
Gabe Purdy, an employee for the Student Housing Cooperative, helps clean a room damaged by an early morning fire at Phoenix cooperative, 239 Oakhill Ave, on Sept. 4, 2013. Responders got a call at 3:02 a.m. about a fire that started on the second floor of the building. Julia Nagy/The State News
An official cause for the blaze has not yet been determined.
In addition to the rooms that were completely destroyed, many other rooms in the cooperative were left with water damage. All 29 residents will be placed in other cooperatives while repairs are made.
Student Housing Cooperative public relations consultant Cambria Sobolewski said the building is insured, but the cost to repair the damages has not been assessed.
Theatre sophomore Andrew VanOtteren, who lives in the building, said he came home around 1 a.m. Wednesday morning. He said he was sitting on the front porch with other residents until about 3 a.m., when one of his roommates ran outside, screaming that her bedroom had gone up in flames.
“We went to see which room it was and we saw a glow, so we sprayed the hell out of it and got out of there quick,” VanOtteren said. “(My roommate) was in bed sleeping, and she woke up because she heard the crackling of the flames. It was a close call.”
VanOtteren said most residents evacuated the building within minutes. Political science senior Anthony Briones, who lives across the street from Phoenix, said he visited the cooperative around 2:30 a.m. and saw no signs of trouble.
“I came back from the bar and came to the house and hung out for a bit,” Briones said. “When I came (outside) this morning, I saw a dumpster in front of the house.”
He said charred possession were being tossed into the trash.
The incident remains under investigation.