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Arsonists Set Fire to Papers in Mather

No one hurt in brief Sunday a.m. blaze in newspaper box

By Jenifer L. Steinhardt, Crimson Staff Writer

When the fire alarm started sounding Sunday morning, Dana M. Casaus ’02 woke her roommate, grabbed her thesis, and opened the front door of her 11th floor Mather House suite—only to find that it was her door on fire.

The fire only caused minimal damage, since Jon D. Kuczmarski ’02 put out the fire with an extinguisher before units from the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) and Cambridge Fire Department (CFD) arrived on the scene.

“I saw the fire and jumped into action,” Kuczmarski said.

A further investigation by CFD investigators determined the fire had been intentionally set.

Around 4 a.m. Sunday, two students allegedly set fire to the basket of newspapers attached the suite door, said Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) spokesperson Steven G. Catalano.

He declined to identify the students, citing the continuing investigation.

“This is not a prank, this is a fire,” Catalano said. “The University takes a fire in a residence or any building very seriously.”

CFD Chief Gerald Reardon said CFD arson investigators had filed a criminal summons against the two Harvard students yesterday.

The Mather house senior tutors could not be reached for comment yesterday.

A Mather House resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was riding in the elevator with the two suspects a few minutes before the alarm sounded, when they informed him that they were going to pull the fire alarm.

The resident described the suspects to investigators, who identified them by 8 a.m. the next morning.

Casaus said she and her roommate Shandi O. Smith ’02 did not know the two suspects, and thought they set their box on fire because it was the only one in the area containing a number of papers.

“Our doorbox was full, we never clean it out, and everyone else around here does. They probably just wanted a full box,” Casaus said. “We were glad it was random.”

The University replaced the burned basket yesterday, Casaus said.

According to Reardon, arson of an occupied dwelling is punishable by up to 20 years in jail.

—Staff writer Jenifer L. Steinhardt can be reached at

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