A skeleton of charred wood and brick stands on East Roanoke Street where the Zeta Psi house once stood. The building, once home to five members of the all-male social fraternity, burned to ash early Monday morning.
No one was injured in the house fire.J. Wayne Garst, fire code official for the Blacksburg Fire Department, said the blaze began with a couch on the building?s porch and spread to the rest of the house, causing about $75,000 worth of damage.
Lt. Bruce Bradberry, the public information officer for the Blacksburg police, alluded to suspicious activity that might have caused the fire.?We are going to investigate this arson without interference,? Bradberry said Monday afternoon, after threatening obstruction of justice charges against a reporter and a photographer for the Collegiate Times who attempted to cross police tape under a Code of Virginia provision for special access.
Chris Miller, vice-president of the 52-member Zeta Psi fraternity and a junior civil engineering major, described the early morning events.?We had a couple couches on our porch, and one of them was on fire apparently ? All of our brothers were upstairs. They live on the second and third floor up here, and they just saw it,? Miller said around 4:30 a.m. Monday. ?The one guy who lives to the right on the side ? he saw the blaze coming up and over the roof.?
Miller said the residents caught in the fire made a narrow escape.?They got out barely in time to run down the stairs and got out on the first floor,? he said.
Miller would not comment on the possibility of the fire caused by foul play.The Zeta Psi house was once the home of Zachary Crane, junior economics major; Robert Flahive, senior political science major; Trevor Johnson, junior human nutrition, foods and exercise major; Kevin Lyles, junior finance major; and Joshua Whitney, a junior mining and minerals engineering major.
Members of the university administration, including those in Student Programs, have already taken steps to aid the students affected by the fire.
?The university is doing whatever is within its power in terms of providing any emergency funds and resources to help them,? said Patrick Romero-Aldaz, assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
The university, Romero-Aldaz said, is researching ways of providing for the housing needs of the Zeta Psi members.
?We met this morning with the five students affected and representatives from Fraternity and Sorority Life as well as the Student Life Office to highlight the needs of the students, be they individual or collective,? Romero-Aldaz said. ?We are currently working together with Residence Life, Housing and Dining Services and our offices to meet their needs like housing.?
Despite Miller?s account of the early morning fire, Zeta Psi brothers would not immediately comment on the specifics of the fire to the Collegiate Times. John Dileo, president of Zeta Psi and a senior business information technology major, cited advice from the national chapter of the fraternity not to answer questions pertaining to the blaze. He did, however, say that the fraternity did have insurance on the house. Miller said in another incident last month, Zeta Psi paddles were stolen from the house, shortly after its rush began.
?We just want our stuff back,? Miller said of the missing paddles. ?At this point, we?ve lost everything that our fraternity has. We would just appreciate it if the people who do have our stuff would just bring it back.?
The Virginia Tech chapter of Zeta Psi, according to its website, is known as Alpha Pi.