Bayfield fire classified arson
By Kevin Gale
Students at Western's Bayfield Hall stood out in the cold for an hour yesterday at noon after a room in the residence was set on fire.
Fire marshal Dan Magda, of the solicitor general's office, arrived at the scene late yesterday afternoon. He said the fire has been classified as arson and has been turned over to the London Police Force's Criminal Investigations Division.
"In the meantime, the [London] police have identified a suspect and should have the investigation wrapped up sometime [today]," said Insp. Bob Earle of the University Police Department.
"Two fires had been set in the fourth-floor apartment, one in the bedroom and one in the living room," said Wayne Hauser, London Fire Department platoon chief, adding the total cost of the damage has been estimated at $10,000.
Hauser said no other apartments have been affected by the fire as it was contained by firefighters, but some smoke did seep out into the hallway.
Western's director of communications, David Estok, said the single occupant apartment was empty at the time and residents were evacuated in an organized fashion. He added no one was injured as a result of the fire or the evacuation.
Bayfield, located next to Saugeen-Maitland Hall on the west side of Western Rd. has 300 single-occupancy rooms. One of the residents on the third floor, fourth-year history student Jennifer Hale and her cat Billy, who was secured in a travel crate, had to wait outside while the situation was dealt with.
"I thought it was a joke. Fire alarms have happened before," Hale said, adding she had no problems getting out of the building.
Hale said she was concerned when she heard the alarm because her neighbour has four cats and she would have been unable to carry them all out of the building if the fire had spread.
Earle said there have been two false alarms at Bayfield this year. The last residence fire occurred Jan. 12, 1984, when six rooms on the second floor of Saugeen-Maitland Hall were burned. Arson was also suspected in that fire, which left several students homeless.
This is also the second arson incident related to student housing in London this year. The first occurred Sept. 4 when a house at 344 Harvard St. had its porch burned in the early hours of the morning.