No injuries in ZBT blaze
OFSA hopes to allow brothers back into the house by Thursday
February 23, 2010, 8:34 am · Updated February 23, 2010, 12:00 am·
A fire broke out at the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity house near 39th and Spruce streets Monday morning.
The fire was called into the Philadelphia Fire Department at about 10:30 a.m. and was under control by about 11 a.m., according to the Philadelphia Fire Commissioner’s Office.
Though the cause of the fire was still under investigation by the Fire Commissioner’s Office Monday night, Chief of Fire and Emergency Services Eugene Janda said the fire appeared to have started in a first-floor electrical room.
There were 16 brothers and two cooks in the house when the fire began, but no one was injured in the blaze, according to Janda.
College sophomore and ZBT brother Jon Schwartz said he believes the fire was contained to one room but smoke filled the house quickly.
Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Director Scott Reikofski said the brothers will be accommodated “at College House rooms and in a hotel” until they can move back in. Though OFSA has “made arrangements for the weekend,” he anticipated brothers would be able to move back Thursday.
OFSA Program Coordinator Larry Moses added that Director of Facilities Tom Hauber arranged for Houston Market and Einstein Bagels to provide meals to the brothers.
Reikofski said fraternity houses’ safety systems are certified “much more often” than is required in Philadelphia.
But Penn alumnus and ZBT Trustee Neal Abrams contended that “had the facilities manager been a little more proactive, [the fire] probably could have been prevented.”
“If we ever have a problem with the house, we’re required to write to them,” Abrams said, referring to Facilities and Real Estate Services. “Their follow-up is not efficient” because the fraternity’s request goes to the end of the queue, Abrams said.
He compared the current system with the system in the 1970s, when fraternity houses were owned by national fraternities rather than by the University. The system was an “extremely efficient way of dealing with repairs,” as each fraternity was in charge of its own upkeep.
Facilities spokesman Tony Sorrentino could not be reached for comment Monday night.
Staff Writers Victor Gamez and Anjali Tsui and Assignments Editor Dana Vogel contributed reporting to this article.