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Ann Arbor Police take over investigation into blaze at University of Michigan fraternity
Updated On: Jul 12, 2008

Ann Arbor Police take over investigation into blaze at University of Michigan fraternity

Posted by Art Aisner | The Ann Arbor News June 10, 2008 18:37PM

Categories: Breaking News

Past coverage:
Firefighters back at frat house as roofing smolders
Cause still unknown for fire that gutted historic U-M frat house
Fire destroys historic University of Michigan frat house
Watch the video

Ann Arbor fire investigators haven't labeled the blaze as suspicious, but turned their probe over to police to determine the cause of a fire that gutted much of a historic fraternity house late last month.

Ann Arbor Fire Marshal Kathleen Chamberlain said the investigation was forwarded to police Tuesday in the hopes that detectives can help track down leads in the May 30 blaze. The Delta Upsilon fraternity house, in the 1300 block of Hill Street near the University of Michigan Central Campus, was virtually destroyed when a quick-moving fire consumed much of the home.

"There's nothing concrete to indicate this is a suspicious fire, but that absolutely does not rule it out," Chamberlain said.

No one was injured in the blaze, which was reported by neighbors shortly before 6 a.m.

Damage estimates exceed $1 million for the Tudor revival house, which was designed by famed architect Albert Kahn in 1903 and was listed on the State Register of Historic Sites.

Chamberlain said the structure's age and lack of sprinklers made it difficult to fight the fire. But the design also funneled the flames in the center of the house to the top levels and away from several rooms that remain unscathed.

Contact reporter Art Aisner at aaisner@annarbornews.com
or 734-994-6823.


Ann Arbor resident Larry Kowalski, a fraternity alumnus and current member of the local chapter's board, said there's still hope that portions of the structure can be saved. Living arrangements for the dozen or so students who planned to reside there in the fall are still pending, he added.

Officials with the fraternity's national headquarters in Indianapolis did not return calls from The News Tuesday.

Detective Sgt. Richard Kinsey said police were involved in the initial stages of the investigation and will now focus on evidence collected at the scene. He said they'll establish a timeline for any activity around the house preceding the fire.

A police dog trained to detect accelerants searched the home, and a lab analysis of debris collected is pending, Chamberlain said.

Detectives will also search police records for previous fires in the vicinity.

"There's a lot of concern because it's such a densely-populated area, and we have had significant fires around there before," Kinsey said. "We're going back over the other fires for possible connections to make sure all leads are followed."

Anyone with information is asked to call the police tip line at 734-996-3199


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