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A four-alarm fire destroyed the roof of a Dartmouth College dormitory early Saturday. (Eric Francis/Special to the Sunday News)

Hibachi blamed for Dartmouth dormitory fire


HANOVER — The dormitory fire that displaced 71 at Dartmouth College was caused by students using a hibachi grill on the roof of the building, fire officials said Sunday.

The overnight fire drew firefighters from both sides of the Connecticut River and took hours to put out, given the roof design and materials used in the construction, firefighters said. The blaze started at about midnight Saturday, and it was not brought under control for hours.

State Fire Marshal Office investigators said the hibachi had been left unattended on a flat section of roof outside a dorm window.

No one was hurt, but the fire left Morton Hall uninhabitable. In a statement, college official said the structure of the building was damaged, and it also suffered smoke and water damage.

It will likely remain closed for the remainder of the term.

“Dartmouth staff and faculty are working to support the students affected by the fire and have secured alternative housing for them. At the moment, our priorities are to ensure that they are safe, comfortable, and experiencing minimal disruption to their studies and activities,” Provost Carolyn Dever said in the statement.

All of the students have found housing. The displaced students are staying with friends in other residence halls, or Student Affairs personnel have helped them locate space in residence halls, the college said.

Students were allowed to enter Morton Hall to retrieve belongings.

Hanover Fire Chief Martin McMillan said several factors made the fire difficult to fight: the high ceiling inside the dormitory, the height of the building, and the roof’s construction.

Like many Dartmouth buildings, the dormitory had a copper roof with a wood frame underneath. The wood frame was covered in a waterproof material and there were plenty of spaces in between the wood and the roof to allow air to fuel the fire, McMillan Anyone with information that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact investigator Adam Fanjoy of the State Fire Marshal’s Office at (603) 223-4289.


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