Outdoor Pursuits fire pit damaged twice in last two weeks

Estimated damages between $500 to $1,000

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University Police are looking for a suspect who damaged an Outdoor Pursuits fire pit and the surrounding area in between the Student Union and Knox Hall. 

In the last two weeks, two separate incidents resulted in serious damage to the physical structure of the fire pit and surrounding spaces, including one of the surrounding permanent benches and a blue and white picnic table. A student damaged the fire pit near the Lake LaSalle boat launch last year, making this the third incident in a year. 

Someone ripped pieces of the stone fire pit out of place and bent the metal cover on top of the structure in half. Russ Crispell, director of Outdoor Pursuits, estimates the damages are between $500 to $1,000. 

Crispell is frustrated by the damage and asked that anyone in the UB community with information about the damage speak with UPD. 

“I would love to know if anyone has seen the damage but more important, I would just like to know why someone would do this,” Crispell said. “This is a service on campus that students love. We get over two dozen reservations a semester. It’s beyond me why someone would prevent students from enjoying outdoor recreational services on campus.”

UPD Deputy Chief of Police Joshua Sticht said campus police have looked into the incident, but currently have no suspects. 

“While this investigation is still pending, I do not see a lot of solvability with this. We have reached out to some of the last groups to use the fire pit to try to narrow down the time frames for the damage, but have not developed any potential suspect information,” Sticht said. “While there is not camera footage of these exact areas, we have been reviewing the cameras around that area. Nothing solid was found in the footage that we have so far.”

 The fire pits are available for students to use –– weather permitting –– in both the fall and spring semesters. Students can rent one of the two pits on campus for $25 an hour for up to three hours. Crispell said he placed a work order and hopes to have the structure functional as soon as possible so students can continue to enjoy it before winter. 

“The only reason we make students pay is to cover the staff who monitors the fire, s’mores materials and firewood,” Crispell said. “I’m saddened for the groups of students that have found this to be a great inexpensive recreational outlet who won’t be able to enjoy a fire until it’s fixed.”

Max Kalnitz is the senior news editor and can be reached at max.kalnitz@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @Max_Kalnitz