City official: Fireworks sparked blaze at Phoenix


Careless use of fireworks caused last week’s fire at Phoenix cooperative house, East Lansing Fire Inspector Don Carter confirmed Wednesday.

Carter said residents were releasing fireworks from the roof of the cooperative, 239 Oakhill Ave., into the early hours of the morning Sept. 4. The fire began around 3 a.m., destroyed four rooms and temporarily displaced all 29 residents of Phoenix.

He said remnants of fireworks later were found on the property, which confirmed reports the department received from several neighborhood complaints.

“There’s a flat deck on the southern end, and apparently they were hanging out up there,” Carter said. “There were complaints in the area about fireworks, but we were unable to say where they were coming from. Had we known, we could have put a stop to this whole thing.”

Rumors spread like wildfire last week as to the possible cause of the blaze, which led to investigation by city fire officials and further speculation as to the cause.

MSU Student Housing Cooperative public relations consultant Cambria Sobolewski said the organization had not yet been notified by the fire department of the official cause.

Sobolewski said 17 of the cooperative’s 29 residents are moved back in, and noted the remaining displaced members likely will be able to move back into the cooperative by the end of the week once inspectors give approval.

The total cost of the damage has not yet been determined.

“We’re focusing every day on letting people know when they can come back to their room, trying to finish things as quickly as possible and making sure the rooms are quality,” Soboloweski said.

“The fire started in the roof over a couple of the rooms, and … the other rooms are pretty water-damaged. We’ve closed down the whole wing because we had to turn off electricity and water.”

Environmental biology junior Jordan Brandel, one of the displaced Phoenix residents whose room was badly damaged in the blaze, said he is relieved to know the fire was not caused by an internal issue in the building.

“It’s nice to know that it wasn’t an electrical fire. … Potentially, the house needs some renovations, especially electric,” Brandel said. “It can only get better from here, and I’m dealing with it.”

Brandel said residents have not been asked to help cover the costs of damages at this time, but said members of the cooperative have discussed the possibility of raising rent costs if they are held accountable.

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