Spaulding fire allegedly started by butane torch

On May 3, 2013

  • Flames were seen coming from the fourth floor of Spaulding Building 1 on Thursday night. This photo was taken from one of the Spaulding towers. Courtesy of Michael McTarnaghan, via Twitter

UB student Alec Seidenberg is accused of dropping a butane torch while smoking marijuana in a Spaulding Building 1, fourth floor room on Thursday night, according to a press release released by the University Police Department.

Both Seidenberg and his girlfriend were taken to Erie County Medical Center with minor injuries. Seidenberg is expected to be released today, and his girlfriend was treated and released last night.

UPD arrested Seidenberg and he is accused of arson, possession of marijuana, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. He was issued an appearance ticket to appear in Amherst Town Court on those charges, according to UPD.

Chief Gerry Schoenle said there is damage from smoke, heat and water to the dorm structure and contents of the dorm, totaling an estimated $250,000. There was no damage to the rooms surrounding the source room, he said.

The fire started at approximately 6:17 p.m., according to police reports, and students were allowed to return their rooms on the first three floors once the building was cleared and alarms were reset at 9:28 p.m.

Residents of the fourth floor were able to return to their rooms to collect their things this morning after being temporarily displaced to a local hotel Thursday night. Campus Living is working with the individual students to provide them with housing for the rest of the semester.

Schoenle credits the Getzville, Ellicott Creek and North Bailey Fire Departments with the quick response and excellent work to contain the fire to one room, making the building safe for entry within three hours of the first alarms.

The use of devices like the butane torch and smoking in the residence halls is strictly prohibited.



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