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Student-Owned Vehicle Catches Fire Near Cabot

Flames engulfed a student-owned van parked outside Cabot House early Sunday morning, in an incident police and fire fighters are investigating as arson.

Shortly after fire fighters extinguished the flames, Lt. Sandy Francis of the Cambridge Fire Department gave orders to have the van impounded and examined by an arson investigator. Officials suspect arson because the fire started in the back seat of the vehicle--far from its engine--and there was no collision before the blaze, Lt. Francis said.

A Cabot House resident strolling down Walker Street, where the van was parked, on Sunday morning said he believed he saw a person in the van minutes before the fire erupted. "I saw a white flash out of the corner of my eye...I thought I saw a person [in the van]," said Jeremy S. Ditelberg '91.

Flames melted the van's roof and rose to the height of second story windows in Cabot House, though no damage occurred outside the vehicle.

Steve F. Gregurek '92 said he thought it was raining when he heard "a crackling noise like the sound of sticks breaking" outside his second-story room in Cabot House. A fire alarm roused him from his studies minutes later, he said. "I looked out the window and all I could see were orange flames."

The owner of the van, Michael J. Hooten '91-'92, said he had no reason to suspect arson. "If it were arson, I don't think it was done to spite me. I really don't have any enemies that I know of," said Hooten, a North House affiliate currently on leave.

Hooten, a College Pro painter, had used the van since May to transport paint and ladders. There was no paint thinner or other combustible materials in the van when it caught fire, he said. Hooten estimated the value of the van and its contents at $4,000.

Council Extends Deadline For Candidates to Register

In an attempt to attract enough students to fill the 88 posts in the Undergraduate Council, the body's executive board last night extended the candidacy deadline in several voting districts a second time.

The move is hardly a first for the representative body, but in the recent past, according to Council Secretary Evan B. Rauch '92, the council had been able to attract enough candidates by extending the deadline just once.

"The thing with participation is you're never sure whether it indicates satisfaction or dissatisfaction [with the council]," Rauch said last night.

The deadlines for declaring candidacy in Dudley, Mather, Lowell and Dunster Houses was extended from 1 p.m. yesterday afternoon until 5 p.m. today. Mather, Lowell and Dunster Houses have only four candidates to fill five seats, while Dudley House has only three.

On Friday afternoon, the council's executive board extended the deadline from Friday to Sunday in seven districts, three of which have since been filled.

Rauch, who is in charge of running the election, said that he would continue extending the filing deadline as long as necessary, and might resort to calling his friends in the houses to fill the seats.

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