Neglected Menorah Causes Blaze

Four Engines Respond to Thayer Fire; Little Damage Is Done

When Katherine H. Sigelman '99 and Molly H. Donohue '99 returned home from dinner at Pizzaria Uno's with four friends from their entryway last night, they didn't expect to find three police officers in their Thayer 313 room.

Sigelman had left candles burning in a makeshift menorah and returned to find the menorah burned to a crisp along with her computer mouse and parts of the top of her desk. Four fire engines responded to the desktop fire.

The "menorah" consisted of a three-hole punch. Because last night was the second night of Hannukah, Sigelman said she put candles into the three holes and lit them.

"I only needed three candles because I'm going home tomorrow," she said of her impromptu menorah.

"It wasn't the greatest menorah ever seen on the face of the planet," she said.

Sigelman left for dinner at about 6:30 p.m., when the candles had burned about halfway.

Upon her return at approximately 8:45 p.m., the desk and floor were covered with soot and a pall of smoke hung in the air.

Witnesses

When Belinda J. McIntosh '99 heard smoke alarms going off at approximately 8 p.m., she opened her door, stepped into the hallway and walked towards the noise.

At first, she said she thought the noise was the elevator, which was across the hall from Thayer 313, and she walked toward it.

Two other Thayer residents also responded to the alarms and walked into the hallway.

"I came out my door and saw the smoke coming out the door," Ina Daci '99 said.

Sarah E. Stoltzner '99 also opened her door. Stoltzner, who lives across from room 313, saw McIntosh and Daci walking down the hall.

The hall was cloudy, McIntosh said, but when she saw the smoke alarm flashing, she walked into Stoltzner's room and called the Harvard police.

"When the police came and opened the door, I saw a really tiny fire on the desk," Stoltzner said. "I thought there was something plastic burning on the desk. It looked like it was on the keyboard."

Stoltzner said that when the police officers opened the door, "all the smoke came out into the hallway."

At about 8:20 p.m., after the fire-fighters left the building, police officers allowed the evacuated Thayer residents to return to their rooms.

Police officers on the scene refused to comment, although one officer mentioned that Officer Rick Vitale has saved Sigelman's guinea pig from smoke inhalation