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Youths Rescued From Blazing U-M Fraternity House

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Three Ann Arbor lire men were injured and three I youths were rescued early I this morning when a ragirig I fire virtually destroyed the I Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity I house at 1805 Washtenaw Ave. Ann Arbor Fire Chief Arthur L. Stauch said 60 per cent I oí the brick veneer and stone I building was destroyed with I an estimated loss of $75,000. Fire Lt. Laurel A. Bauer, I 43, a 22-year veteran of fire I service, and Firefighter Donald Hutchins, 29, suffered I body bruises when the blazing I second floor of the fraternity I house collapsed under them. I Bauer and Hutchins plunged I more than 12 feet to the first I floor of the house and were I pinned beneath burned timI bers and debris. Other firemen, playing a I half-dozen heavy h o s e í streams on the fire from the outside, rushed i n s i d e the house and in a frantic 15-min ute effort pried the two trapped firemen loose. "It has to be our lucky day j for injuries," Chief Stauch I said. "We might have had I someone seriously hurt." I Both Bauer and Hutchins I were released after examinaI tion and treatment at St. I Joseph Mercy Hospital. Also released from St. I Joseph Mercy Hospital after I three stitches were taken in I an arm gash was Ann Arbor I Firefighter John Thompson, I 32. Chief Stauch said ThompI son was cut when a window I in the fraternity house shatI tered when it was hit with a I blast from a fire hose. A fourth person hurt in the I fire was Jerry Benjamin of I Cantón, Ohio, whom firemen I rescued from the roof of a ■ west side wing of the fraterI nity house. Benjamin, who I is not listed as a University I student, was apparently visitI ing the house when the fire I broke out. He was released I from University Hospital aftI er treatment for a haad cut. Fire Lt. Henry Mallory said I Benjamin apparently was cut I when he smashed a window I in a second floor room of the I main portion of the house. I The Ohio youth climbed out puf the window and made his I Way to the roof of the west side wing from where fireB- iMIM- - mi i " menrescuedhim. The two other persons rescued by firemen were James Eisenberg, about 21, a junior in the College of Engineering who is from Highland Park, and Miss Susie Albert, about 20, a sophomore in the Literary College who is from Southfield and whose local address is the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority, 1205 Hill St. Eisenberg and Miss Albert were plucked from a second floor window of the house m o m e n t s before flames enveloped much of the upper story, firemen said. The Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity is one of several coeducational dwellings on the campus with men students living in one section of the house and women in the other. Chief Stauch said University officials told him there are about 31 regular residents of the house and there were an estimated 30 persons asleep in the dwelling when the fire broke out. The students fled into the 20 - degree temperature in night clothes and robes. Firemen said' a half-dozen student cars parked in the driveway of the house prevented fire equipment from pulling close to the house when firemen arrived. But shi vering students, dashing out of the burning structure, soon had the cars pushed or driven from the entry and a fire pumper was manuvered into1 the north driveway. Chief Stauch and two members of his department's Fire Prevention Bureau were checking the ruins of the f r a t e r,n i t y house at noon today in an effort to determine the cause of the blaze. The chief said i n i t i a 1 reports indícate the fire j began in the center of the colonial-style main building, ! possibly on the second floor. Battalion Fire Chief Emerson Ehnis, who led trucks and men to the scène from central fire headquarters, said the fire was roaring up through the center of the fraternity and racing through partitions when his men arrived. Whenthe alarm was received at 4:30 a . m . , firefighters from the E. Stadium Blvd. station and from central fire headquarters responded. At the . height of the three-hour battle to con' ;ï ■ i i. jnr ' nü i trol the raging flames there were 30 firemen manning five trucks pumping thousands of gallons of water at the towering flames. Chief Stauch estimated his men sent 15,000 gallons of water hurtling into the burning house. He said there was no danger during the fire to a nearby sorority house or other dwellings to the north of the Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity. Firemen, clinging to the tops of ladders and peering into the roof-top blaze thiough smoke mask face shields, were constantly hampered by rolling clouds of smoke which filled the Washtenaw Ave. -Cambridge Rd. aiea and were visible for seveial miles in all directions. Fire axes and pike poles were used to smash window glass so firefighters could reach the flames inside the house, and at one point when a stream of water hit a dormer at the top of the house a huge cloud of black smoke burst out at firemen on nearby ladders. Atonepointwhenit appeared the flerce flames would sweep under and into the west wing addition to the house, Chief Stauch and Assistant Chief Fred Schmid ordered their men off the roof oí the wing. When the men had evacuated the roof, three large hoses sent tons of water thundering into the advancing flames. The weary firemen won that brief battle and most of the house's wing was spared fire damage. About 6 a.m. a series of detonations were heard from a second floor room on the east side of the house and Pólice Sgt. Dale Heath and Patrolman Robert Flynn ordered spectators from the area in case the sounds were made by exploding ammunition. Officers later said the noise may have been made by firecrackers s t o r e d in the room and set off by the fire. The biting cold froze some of the water which streamed off the sides of the fraternity house, making footing treacherous for the hurrying firemen. Ann Arbor pólice and sheriff's deputies directed traffic along Washtenaw Ave. past the blazing nouse, wnicn i is located several building lots north of the edge of I ncw Ave. and appears to be I on Cambridge Rd. Chief Stauch said Lt. Bauer I and Firefighter Hutchins were I among a half-dozen firemen I on the second floor of the I house putting out the last of I the flames when the floor I der them collapsed. Only a I p o r t i o n of the floor feil I through and the other I men working nearby escaped I harm. At the hospital, Lt. Bauer I named some of the firemen I near him at the. timp atiri a I quick check of all personnel I revealed no one else had I e-i with the floor. Lt. Bauer was seriously hurt I three years ago when he feil I from a 30-foot training tower I at the University's Civil I fense and Disaster Training I Center on the North Campus. I Bauer was taking part in al regular training session at the I center which also serves as I the Fire Department's I ber 5 station. After hospitalization, Bauer I recovered from severe head I and arm injuries suffered in ■ that faU. The house has more than a ■ score of rooms in it, with the I newer east wing having been I added several years ago. But I Chief Stauch said the central I section of the structure was I laced with old timber with I few "fire stops" in partitions. I Robert Rorke, assistant I rector of University housing, I said arrangements have been I made to move girls from the I burned-out coed housing unit I i n t o various sororities and I residence halls and the men I i n t o various residence halls I and fraternities on a 1 nent basis for the remainder I of the semester. He said arrangements have I been made to o b t a i n new I clothes for the students and ■ that final arrangements on M housing and clothing would be completed during a noon I ing today. He said the U-M Housing Office started making the arrangements early this I morning. 1 A University spokcsman 1 said representaties from the ■ housing office were meeting I with the burned-out student s ■ at noon today to offer them I options on housing and to I cuss housing which is ■ I diately availablc. The I I Sitv Office of Registration and ■