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$200,000 Fire Routs Fraternity Members

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IA raging fire, apparently started by a short circuit in Christmas tree lights, swept through two floors of a University ' fraternity house earl y this morning, causing damage estimated at over $200,000. Thirty members of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house at 1437 Washtenaw Ave. near S. University Ave. were routed from their beds when the fire broke out about 6:30 a.m. today. Most of the students fled from the blazing threestory, brick house in night clothing. Fire Chief Arthur L. Stauch said his men rescued two students from the building but the others managed to scrambled to safety. None was injured. The chief said one of his men, Firefighter Harold Armbruster, 29, was treated at University Hospital for hand, neck and face burns received when he was caught in a "backflash" of f lame while battling fire on the third floor of the fraternity house. Other firemen receivea bruises in the 90-minute struggle Iagainst the fire but they were not hospitalized, Stauch said. Battalion Fire Chief Paul Wenk led 35 firefighters manning five pieces of equipmenl to the scène from central fire headquarters when the alarm was received at 6:31 a.m. today. Working shifts at the central station were changing when the alarm was sounded and firefighters from both shifts were dispatched to the fraternity house. Chief Stauch said Fire Inspector Nolan Lee has been assigned to investígate the I blaze. He said preliminary findings indiI cate the fire started in Christmas tree I wiring in a sleeping room at the northI easi corner of the second floor. I The chief said occupants of the room I and other students sleeping nearby,. aroused by the odor of smoke, attempted I to put out the blaze with fire extinguishI ers. But when it became obvious that the flames were spreading out of control I tbey fled from the building, he said. The flames shot out of the room where I the tree was and then raced down a hallI way in a matter of minutes, Battalion Chief Wenk said. The fire then shot up a I stairway leading to the third floor and atüc and engulfed that area in a short I time. By the time the first fire units rolled up to the scène, flames were shooting out of Windows and climbing toward the roof, Chief Wenk said. The flames destroyed the interior of all eight rooms on I I the second and third floors. - - - w..- . „- . . ■ When the fire reachecfc _ _,,„., vut 1 area over the third floor level, it pushed I up and burned through the roof. I men, using an aerial ladder and three I pumper trucks, shot 45,000 gallons of I ter on the rolling flames before bringing I the blaze under control at 8:15 a.m. I day. Chief Stauch said some students I vented major fire damage in their rooms I by closing doors before abandoning the I building. He said the first floor had I heavy water and smoke damage with I virtually all fire damage confined to the I second and third stories and the roof. Student occupants of the fraternity I house, shivering in the freezing I tures, carried a number of personal I belongings from the charred building I er the fire had been extinguished. I cal instruments, stereophonic sets and 1 clothing were piled up outside the house I as the students made arrangements for I temporary housing. The Phi Delta Theta house, an old, 1 posing brick tructure at the northeast I corner of Wastheaw and S. University I Aves., has been the scène of annuall Christmas parties for children for many I years. It is across the street from the I Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house, I 1408 Washtenaw Ave., where a short I cuit in a cable caused a fire six years I ago which resulted in damage of more I than $20,000. Thirty-five members of the I Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity fled to I safety when that blaze broke out about I 10:30 p.m. on April 7, 1965. A hollow at I the front of the house is used for the I nual "Mud Bowl" fight, a traditional part I of the University's football homecoming I weekend. A few blocks east of the two fraternity I houses is the Phi Epsilon Phi fraternity I at 1805 Washtenaw Ave., where a $75,000 I fire occurred on March 9, 1970. Three I Ann Arbor firemen were injured and I three U-M students were rescued from I that blazing building. Fire Chief Stauch said this morning's I blaze is virtally certain to push the I tal fire loss for 1971 to record I tions. The city has now had three major I blazes in the past month with the I Municipal Court Building at Huron and I Main Sts. extensively damaged on Nov. I 10 and the Ann Arbor Public School I ministration Building at 1220 Wells St. I virtually destroyed on Nov. 23. Total loss I on the three buildings is expected to I reach $1,000,000. In addition, Mrs. Alvin W. Pais, 39, I and her 17-year-old daughter, Joyce, I died in a fire in their home at 2614 Page I Ct. on the city's southeast side on Nov. I 25. U