Arsonist strikes dorm at TSU

March 21, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Sun Staff Writer Contributing writer Michael Schwartzberg provided information for this article.

About 250 students were evacuated shortly before dawn yesterday after an arsonist set fires on three floors of a high-rise residence hall at Towson State University.

None of the students was hurt, but two campus police officers and a maintenance worker required hospital treatment for smoke inhalation.

lTC University police evacuated the Residence Tower building, at Burke Avenue and Towsontowne Boulevard, around 6 a.m.

"It seems someone set fire to sofas and chairs in a lounge [on the second floor] and torched bulletin boards on the third and fifth floors," said Susanna Craine, a university spokeswoman. "It appears that the sprinkler system put the fires out, but the Fire Department arrived with equipment en masse."

Police evacuated students from the 13-floor building and checked the high-rise for damage. One student said the building's top several floors are unoccupied because of asbestos removal work.

The fire was contained to the lounge and hallways where the bulletin boards were located. Fire officials estimated damage at $10,000, Ms. Craine said.

"The smoke was very thick on the second floor, and when students opened their doors, they couldn't see," Ms. Craine said.

Campus Officers Terry Pompey and Tom Fisher and maintenance worker Joe Bacon were released after treatment for smoke inhalation at St. Joseph Hospital. Students were allowed back in the building by noon.

Tower resident Joel Schwartz said he was "clueless" about the ** fire until alerted by a friend.

"I had to call work and tell my manager that I wouldn't be able to make it in on time because my building was on fire," he said.

Maki Murofushi, visiting friends at TSU, had a 9:45 a.m. flight from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to return home to Japan, but her suitcases and airline ticket were in the building.

She was led into the building by a police officer to retrieve her belongings after a 90-minute wait.

Campus police are investigating the fire, along with the State Fire Marshal's office, Ms. Craine said.

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